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Plexin B1 inhibits MET through direct association and regulates Shp2 expression in melanocytes
Joanne Soong, Glynis Scott


Plexin B1, the receptor for Semaphorin 4D (Sema4D), is expressed by melanocytes in the skin. We recently showed that Sema4D suppresses activation of the hepatocyte growth factor receptor, MET, in melanocytes, and that knockdown of Plexin B1 results in activation of MET. MET signaling mediates proliferation, survival and migration in melanocytes, and its activation is associated with transformation of melanocytes to melanoma. In this report we investigated the mechanism by which Plexin B1 inhibits MET activation. Our results show that Plexin B1 and MET exist as an oligomeric receptor-receptor complex in melanocytes, and that receptor association is increased by Sema4D. MET and Plexin B1 receptor complexes were identified along the cell body of melanocytes, and Sema4D increased receptor association on dendrites, suggesting that Sema4D regulates MET-dependent processes at precise locations on the melanocyte. Despite activation of MET, Plexin B1 knockdowns proliferated slowly and showed increased apoptosis compared with controls. Shp2, a non-receptor protein tyrosine phosphatase, translates growth and survival signals from MET and other receptor tyrosine kinases. Plexin B1 knockdowns had markedly lower levels of Shp2 compared with controls, and Sema4D upregulated Shp2 expression at the protein and message level in normal melanocytes. Functional studies showed that blockade of Shp2 activity abrogated MET-dependent activation of Erk1/Erk2 and Akt in melanocytes. These results suggest a complex role for Sema4D and Plexin B1 in orchestrating signaling from the MET receptor in melanocytes. Because Shp2 is a downstream adaptor protein for multiple receptors, Sema4D may control the effects of several growth factors on melanocytes through regulation of Shp2.


  • Funding

    This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) [grant number R01CA136499 to G.S.]; and an NIH training grant [grant number 5T32AR007472 to J.S.]. Deposited in PMC for release after 12 months.

  • Accepted November 7, 2012.
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