Reversible Phosphorylation as a Molecular Switch to Regulate Plasma Membrane Targeting of Acylated SH4 Domain Proteins


Walter Nickel,


Acylated SH4 domains represent N-terminal targeting signals that anchor peripheral membrane proteins such as Src kinases in the inner leaflet of plasma membranes. Here we provide evidence for a novel regulatory mechanism that may control the levels of SH4 proteins being associated with plasma membranes. Using a fusion protein of the SH4 domain of Leishmania HASPB and GFP as a model system, we demonstrate that threonine 6 is a substrate for phosphorylation. Substitution of threonine 6 by glutamate (to mimic a phosphothreonine residue) resulted in a dramatic redistribution from plasma membranes to intracellular sites with a particular accumulation in a perinuclear region. As shown by both pharmacological inhibition and RNAi-mediated down-regulation of the threonine/ serine-specific phosphatases PP1 and PP2A, recycling back to the plasma membrane required dephosphorylation of threonine 6. We provide evidence that a cycle of phosphorylation and dephosphorylation may also be involved in intracellular targeting of other SH4 proteins such as the Src kinase Yes.