The addition of epidermal growth factor (EGF) to epidermal growth factor receptor (EGF receptor) dissolved in a solution of the detergent Triton X-100 results in the activation of its protein tyrosine kinase. To investigate the importance of the sites for self-phosphorylation on the enzyme in this process, the kinetics of activation of a deletion mutant missing the last 195 amino acids of the protein, including all of the sites for self-phosphorylation, were followed by monitoring the initial velocity at which the enzyme catalyzes the phosphorylation of the exogenous substrate RRKGSTAENAEYLRV. The activation of the enzymatic activity of this deletion mutant of EGF receptor displays kinetics that are second-order with respect to the concentration of the enzyme as does wild-type EGF receptor. The second-order rate constant for its activation is 36 +/- 10 microM-1 min-1, which is only 3-fold greater than the second-order rate constant for the activation of wild-type EGF receptor under the same conditions (13 +/- 2 microM-1 min-1). These results suggest that the mechanism by which the protein tyrosine kinase of the deletion mutant is activated is the same as that for the activation of the wild-type receptor and that the sites of self-phosphorylation in the wild-type EGF receptor do not participate in the mechanism of activation of the enzyme.
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