Research ArticleBiochemistry

Tandem phosphorylation within an intrinsically disordered region regulates ACTN4 function

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Science Signaling  26 May 2015:
Vol. 8, Issue 378, pp. ra51
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aaa1977


Phosphorylated residues occur preferentially in the intrinsically disordered regions of eukaryotic proteins. In the disordered amino-terminal region of human α-actinin-4 (ACTN4), Tyr4 and Tyr31 are phosphorylated in cells stimulated with epidermal growth factor (EGF), and a mutant with phosphorylation-mimicking mutations of both tyrosines exhibits reduced interaction with actin in vitro. Cleavage of ACTN4 by m-calpain, a protease that in motile cells is predominantly activated at the rear, removes the Tyr4 site. We found that introducing a phosphomimetic mutation at only Tyr31 was sufficient to inhibit the interaction with actin in vitro. However, molecular dynamics simulations predicted that Tyr31 is mostly buried and that phosphorylation of Tyr4 would increase the solvent exposure and thus kinase accessibility of Tyr31. In fibroblast cells, EGF stimulation increased tyrosine phosphorylation of a mutant form of ACTN4 with a phosphorylation-mimicking residue at Tyr4, whereas a truncated mutant representing the product of m-calpain cleavage exhibited EGF-stimulated tyrosine phosphorylation at a background amount similar to that observed for a double phosphomimetic mutant of Tyr4 and Tyr31. We also found that inhibition of the receptor tyrosine kinases of the TAM family, such as AXL, blocked EGF-stimulated tyrosine phosphorylation of ACTN4. Mathematical modeling predicted that the kinetics of phosphorylation at Tyr31 can be dictated by the kinase affinity for Tyr4. This study suggests that tandem-site phosphorylation within intrinsically disordered regions provides a mechanism for a site to function as a switch to reveal a nearby function-regulating site.

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