The First Secreted Tyrosine Kinase Phosphorylates Extracellular Proteins

Although tyrosine phosphorylation of extracellular proteins has been reported to occur extensively in vivo, no secreted protein tyrosine kinase has been identified. As a result, investigation of the potential role of extracellular tyrosine phosphorylation in physiological and pathological tissue regulation has not been possible. We have found  that VLK, a putative protein kinase previously shown to be essential in embryonic development, is a secreted protein kinase, with preference for tyrosine, that phosphorylates a broad range of secreted and ER-resident substrate proteins. VLK is rapidly and quantitatively secreted from platelets in response to stimuli and cantyrosine phosphorylate co-released proteins utilizing endogenous as well as exogenous ATP sources. The discovery of VLK activity provides an explanation for the extensive and conserved pattern of extracellular tyrosine phosphophorylation seen in vivo, and extends the importance of regulated tyrosine phosphorylation into the extracellular environment.