The protein-tyrosine kinase Pyk2/CAKβ/CADTK is a key activator of Src in many cells. At hippocampal synapses, induction of long term potentiation requires the Pyk2/Src signaling pathway, which up-regulates the activity of N-methyl-D-aspartate-type glutamate receptors. Because localization of protein kinases close to their substrates is crucial for effective phosphorylation, we investigated how Pyk2 might be recruited to the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor complex. This interaction is mediated by PSD-95 and its homolog SAP102. Both proteins colocalize with Pyk2 at postsynaptic dendritic spines in the cerebral cortex. The proline-rich regions in the C-terminal half of Pyk2 bind to the SH3 domain of PSD-95 and SAP102. The SH3 and guanylate kinase homology (GK) domain of PSD-95 and SAP102 interact intramolecularly, but the physiological significance of this interaction has been unclear. We show that Pyk2 effectively binds to the Src homology 3 (SH3) domain of SAP102 only when the GK domain is removed from the SH3 domain. Characterization of PSD-95 and SAP102 as adaptor proteins for Pyk2 fills a critical gap in the understanding of the spatial organization of the Pyk2-Src signaling pathway at the postsynaptic site and reveals a physiological function of the intramolecular SH3-GK domain interaction in SAP102.
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