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J Biol Chem. 1989 Jan 25;264(3):1431-6.

Effect of multiple phosphorylations of smooth muscle and cytoplasmic myosins on movement in an in vitro motility assay.

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  • 1Laboratory of Molecular Cardiology, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Bethesda, Maryland 20892.


The Nitella-based in vitro motility assay developed by Sheetz and Spudich (Sheetz, M.P., and Spudich, J. A. (1983) Nature 303, 31-35) is a quantitative assay for measuring the velocity of myosin-coated beads over an organized substratum of actin. We have used this assay to analyze the effect of phosphorylation of various sites on the 20,000-Da light chain of smooth muscle and cytoplasmic myosins. Phosphorylation by myosin light chain kinase at serine 19 on the 20,000-Da light chain subunit of smooth muscle myosin from turkey gizzard, bovine trachea and aorta, and of cytoplasmic myosin from human platelets was required for bead movement. The individual phosphorylated myosin-coated beads moved at characteristic rates under the same conditions (turkey gizzard myosin, 0.2 micron/s; aorta or trachea myosin, 0.12 micron/s; and platelet myosin, 0.04 micron/s; in contrast, rabbit skeletal muscle myosin, 2 micron/s). Myosin light chain kinase can also phosphorylate threonine 18 in addition to serine 19, and this phosphorylation resulted in an increase in the actin-activated MgATPase activity (Ikebe, M., and Hartshorne, D.J. (1985) J. Biol. Chem. 260, 10027-10031). Phosphorylation at this site had no effect on the velocity of smooth muscle myosin-coated beads. Protein kinase C (Ca2+/phospholipid-dependent enzyme) can also phosphorylate two to three sites on the 20,000-Da light chain, and this phosphorylation alone did not result in the movement of myosin-coated beads. When myosin that had been previously phosphorylated by myosin light chain kinase at serine 19 was also phosphorylated by protein kinase C, myosin-coated beads moved at the same velocity as beads coated with myosin phosphorylated by myosin light chain kinase alone. Tropomyosin binding to actin also had an activating effect on the actin-activated MgATPase activity through an effect on the Vmax and also resulted in an increase in the velocity of myosin-coated beads.

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