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Keywords:

  • G3BP-1;
  • MK-STYX;
  • protein tyrosine phosphatase;
  • pseudophosphatase;
  • stress granules

The pseudophosphatase MK-STYX (mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphoserine/threonine/tyrosine-binding protein) has been implicated in the stress response pathway. The expression of MK-STYX inhibits the assembly of stress granules, which are cytoplasmic storage sites for mRNA that form as a protective mechanism against stressors such as heat shock, UV irradiation and hypoxia. Furthermore, MK-STYX interacts with a key component of stress granules: G3BP-1 (Ras-GTPase activating protein SH3 domain binding protein-1). Because G3BP-1 dephosphorylation at Ser149 induces stress granule assembly, we initially hypothesized that the inhibition of stress granules by MK-STYX was G3BP-1 phosphorylation-dependent. However, in the present study, using MK-STYX constructs and G3BP-1 phosphomimetic or nonphosphorylatable mutants, we show that MK-STYX inhibits stress granule formation independently of G3BP-1 phosphorylation at Ser149. The introduction of point mutations at the ‘active site’ of MK-STYX that convert serine and phenylalanine to histidine and cysteine, respectively, is sufficient to generate an active enzyme. In separate experiments, we show that this active mutant, MK-STYXactive, has opposite effects to wild-type MK-STYK. Not only does MK-STYXactive induce stress granules, but also it has the capacity to dephosphorylate G3BP-1. Taken together, these results provide evidence that the pseudophosphatase MK-STYX plays a key role in the cellular response to stress.