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AbstractProtein-protein binding domains are critical in signalling networks. Src homology 2 (SH2) domains are binding domains that interact with sequences containing phosphorylated tyrosines. A subset of SH2 domain-containing proteins have tandem domains, which are thought to enhance binding affinity and specificity. However, a trade-off exists between long-lived binding and the ability to rapidly reverse signalling, which is a critical requirement of noise filtering mechanisms such as kinetic proofreading. Here, we use modelling to show that the unbinding rate of tandem, but not single, SH2 domains can be accelerated by phosphatases when tandem domains bind by a kinetic, but not a static, avidity mode. We use surface plasmon resonance to show that ZAP70, a tandem SH2 domain-containing kinase, binds kinetically to biphosphorylated peptides from the T cell antigen receptor (TCR) and that the unbinding rate can be accelerated by the phosphatase CD45. An important functional prediction of regulated unbinding is that the intracellular ZAP70/TCR half-life in T cells will be correlated to the extracellular TCR/antigen half-life and we show that this is the case in both cell lines and primary T cells. The work highlights that binding by kinetic avidity breaks the trade-off between signal fidelity (requiring long half-life) and signal reversibility (requiring short half-life), which is a key requirement for T cell antigen discriminated mediated by kinetic proofreading.

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