Using an active, HAI epitope-tagged form of the murine erythropoietin (EPO) receptor and via direct coimmunoprecipitation, the p85 regulatory subunit of phosphatidyl inositol-3 kinase (p85/PI3-K) is shown to associate with the EPO receptor in transfected FDC-P1 cell lines. Coimmunoprecipitation of p85 with epitope-tagged EPO receptors was observed initially in FDC-HER cells labeled metabolically with [32P]orthophosphate, and association of these factors was confirmed by Western analyses of receptor immunoprecipitates using p85 antiserum. Interestingly, this association occurred in the absence of ligand, and exposure of FDC-HER cells to EPO did not detectably affect levels of receptor-associated p85 or overall levels of p85 phosphorylation. However, EPO was observed to stimulated the rapid formation of phosphatidylinositol 32P-phosphate in FDC-HER and FDC-ER cells. Through baculovirus-mediated expression of epitope-tagged EPO receptor forms in SF9 cells, domains for p85 association were mapped. Analyses of receptor forms with cytosolic truncations and deletions delineated a candidate subdomain for p85 binding to an essential extended box-2 region (P329-E374; including a putative motif for SH2 binding, Y343LVL). These findings extend a mechanistic alignment between the EPO receptor and protein tyrosine kinase-encoding receptors that likewise activate PI3-K, and expand the importance of further defining pathways to PI3-K activation.

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