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This article has been peer reviewed. It was published in the Biochemical Journal 284(2):569-576, June 1992. It is available at Copyright © 1992 by The Biochemical Society.


Protein-tyrosine phosphatases (PTPases) play an essential role in the regulation of signal transduction mediated by reversible protein-tyrosine phosphorylation. In order to characterize individual rat hepatic PTPases that might have specificity for autophosphorylated receptor tyrosine kinases, we isolated cDNA segments encoding three PTPases (PTPase 1B, LAR and LRP) that are expressed in insulin-sensitive liver and skeletal muscle tissue, and evaluated their catalytic activity in vitro. The intrinsic PTPase activities of the full-length PTPase 1B protein and the cytoplasmic domains of LAR and LRP were studied by expression of recombinant cDNA constructs in the inducible bacterial vector pKK233-2 using extracts of a host strain of Escherichia coli that lacks endogenous PTPase activity. Each of the cloned cDNAs dephosphorylated a cognate phosphopeptide derived from the regulatory region of the insulin receptor. Despite having only 30-39% sequence identity in their catalytic domains, LAR and PTPase 1B had similar relative activities between the peptide substrate and intact insulin receptors, and also displayed similar initial rates of simultaneous dephosphorylation of insulin and epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptors. In contrast, LRP exhibited a higher rate of dephosphorylation of both intact receptors relative to the peptide substrate, and also dephosphorylated EGF receptors more rapidly than insulin receptors. These studies indicate that three PTPases with markedly divergent structures have the catalytic potential to dephosphorylate both insulin and EGF receptors in intact cells and that redundant PTPase activity may occur in vivo. For these PTPases to have specific physiological actions in intact cells, they must be influenced by steric effects of the additional protein segments of the native transmembrane enzymes, cellular compartmentalization and/or interactions with regulatory proteins.