X-linked agammaglobulinemia, a B cell immunodeficiency, is caused by mutations in the Bruton's tyrosine kinase (Btk) gene. The absence of a functional Btk protein leads to a failure of B cell differentiation and antibody production. B cell receptor stimulation leads to the phosphorylation of the Btk protein and it is, therefore, likely that Btk is involved in B cell receptor signaling. As a nonreceptor tyrosine kinase, Btk is likely to interact with several proteins within the context of a signal transduction pathway. To understand such interactions, we have generated glutathione S-transferase fusion proteins corresponding to different domains of the human Btk protein. We have identified a 120-kD protein present in human B cells as being bound by the SH3 domain of Btk and which, after B cell receptor stimulation, is one of the major substrates of tyrosine phosphorylation. We have shown that this 120-kD protein is the protein product of c-cbl, a protooncogene, which is known to be phosphorylated in response to T cell receptor stimulation and to interact with several other tyrosine kinases. Association of the SH3 domain of Btk with p120cbl provides evidence for an analogous role for p120cbl in B cell signaling pathways. The p120cbl protein is the first identified ligand of the Btk SH3 domain.

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