The tyrosine kinase Pyk2 plays a unique role in intracellular signal transduction by linking Ca2+ influx to tyrosine phosphorylation, but the molecular mechanism of Pyk2 activation is unknown. We report that Pyk2 oligomerization by antibodies in vitro or overexpression of PSD-95 in PC6-3 cells induces trans-autophosphorylation of Tyr402, the first step in Pyk2 activation. In neurons, Ca2+ influx through NMDA-type glutamate receptors causes postsynaptic clustering and autophosphorylation of endogenous Pyk2 via Ca2+- and calmodulin-stimulated binding to PSD-95. Accordingly, Ca2+ influx promotes oligomerization and thereby autoactivation of Pyk2 by stimulating its interaction with PSD-95. We show that this mechanism of Pyk2 activation is critical for long-term potentiation in the hippocampus CA1 region, which is thought to underlie learning and memory.
ASJC Scopus subject areas