The v-sis protein is structurally and functionally related to PDGF. Forms of the v-sis protein which are anchored to the cell membrane via the transmembrane domain of the vesicular stomatitis virus G protein have been previously described (Hannink, M., and D.J. Donoghue. 1986. J. Cell Biol. 103:2311-2322). Several of these fusion proteins were shown to interact productively with the PDGF receptor (PDGFR) based on their ability to transform NIH 3T3 cells. In this report, we further characterized one of these membrane-anchored v-sis proteins, designated v-sis239-G. The gene encoding v-sis239-G was placed under control of the Drosophila melanogaster hsp70 promotor and synthesis of this protein was shown to induce a mitogenic response in NIH 3T3 cells. Unexpectedly, v-sis239-G did not induce detectable autophosphorylation of the PDGFR, in contrast to a similarly expressed secreted form of the v-sis protein. Thus, it appears that a PDGFR-mediated mitogenic response may be dissociated from detectable receptor autophosphorylation. Furthermore, induced synthesis of v-sis239-G was shown to lead to c-fos expression even in the absence of detectable receptor autophosphorylation. Interestingly, a nonmitogenic membrane-anchored form of the v-sis protein, designated v-sis239-G338, also induced c-fos without receptor autophosphorylation. These results raise interesting questions regarding the roles of autophosphorylation and c-fos induction in PDGFR-mediated signal transduction and suggest the possibility of an autophosphorylation-independent signal transduction pathway.

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