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Since the discovery of the prototypical Sprouty (Spry) protein in Drosophila, there has been an effort to determine how these novel modulators of the Ras/MAP-kinase pathway function. A clue to their mechanism of action comes from the several highly conserved sequences within all the currently known Spry isoforms: an ∼110-residue cysteine-rich sequence in the C-terminal half that directs Spry proteins to a concentration of signaling proteins at the plasma membrane; a small motif surrounding a tyrosine residue (Y55 in human Spry2) that is responsible for interaction with other proteins. In cultured mammalian cells, hSpry2 inhibits epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) endocytosis and subsequently sustains the activation of MAP kinase but negatively regulates the same pathway following stimulation of fibroblast growth factor receptors (FGFRs). Current evidence indicates that Cbl is a key protein that interacts directly with Spry2 following activation of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs). It appears to be the ability of Cbl to interact as an E3 ubiquitin ligase on specific target proteins and as a docking protein in other contexts that dictates the differential effects Spry2 has on the Ras/MAP-kinase pathway following EGFR and FGFR activation.

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