Neurofibromatosis type 2 is an autosomal dominant disorder characterized by tumors, predominantly schwannomas, in the nervous system. It is caused by mutations in the gene NF2, encoding the growth regulator schwannomin (also known as merlin). Mutations occur throughout the 17-exon gene, with most resulting in protein truncation and undetectable amounts of schwannomin protein. Pathogenic mutations that result in production of defective schwannomin include in-frame deletions of exon 2 and three independent missense mutations within this same exon. Mice with conditional deletion of exon 2 in Schwann cells develop schwannomas, which confirms the crucial nature of exon 2 for growth control. Here we report that the molecular adaptor paxillin binds directly to schwannomin at residues 50-70, which are encoded by exon 2. This interaction mediates the membrane localization of schwannomin to the plasma membrane, where it associates with β1 integrin and erbB2. It defines a pathogenic mechanism for the development of NF2 in humans with mutations in exon 2 of NF2.
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