Erythropoietin (Epo) and interleukin-3 (IL-3) stimulate activation of the Jak2 tyrosine kinase and induce tyrosine phosphorylation and activation of Stat5. In the present study, we have shown that Epo or IL-3 stimulation induces binding of Stat5 to the tyrosine-phosphorylated Epo receptor (EpoR) or IL-3 receptor beta subunit (betaIL3), respectively, in IL-3-dependent 32D cells expressing the EpoR. The binding of Stat5 to these cytokine receptors was shown to be rapid and transient, occurring within 1 minute of stimulation of cells and significantly decreasing after 5 minutes of cell treatment. In vivo binding experiments in COS cells showed that binding of Stat5 to the EpoR was mediated through the Stat5 Src homology 2 (SH2) domain. In vitro binding studies further showed that Stat5, but not other Stats examined, bound specifically to tyrosine-phosphorylated recombinant EpoR fusion proteins. In these in vivo and in vitro binding studies, Stat5 bound, albeit to a lesser degree, to truncated EpoR mutants in which all the intracellular tyrosines except Y-343 were removed. Furthermore, EpoR-derived synthetic phosphotyrosine peptides corresponding to Y-343, Y-401, Y-431, and Y-479 inhibited the in vitro binding of Stat5. When expressed in 32D cells, a mutant EpoR in which all the intracellular tyrosines were removed by carboxy-terminal truncation showed a significantly impaired ability to induce tyrosine phosphorylation of Stat5, particularly at low concentrations of Epo, but exhibited an increased sensitivity to Epo for growth signaling as compared with the wild-type EpoR. These results indicate that Stat5 specifically and transiently binds to the EpoR through the interaction between the Stat5 SH2 domain and specific phosphorylated tyrosines, including Y-343, in the EpoR cytoplasmic domain. It was implied that betaIL3 may also have similar Stat5 docking sites. The Stat5 docking sites in the EpoR were shown to facilitate specific activation of Stat5, which, however, may not be required for the EpoR-mediated growth signaling.

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