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J Biol Chem. 2010 Oct 22;285(43):33549-66. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.123604. Epub 2010 Aug 20.

m-Calpain activation is regulated by its membrane localization and by its binding to phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15261, USA.


m-Calpain plays a critical role in cell migration enabling rear de-adhesion of adherent cells by cleaving structural components of the adhesion plaques. Growth factors and chemokines regulate keratinocyte, fibroblast, and endothelial cell migration by modulating m-calpain activity. Growth factor receptors activate m-calpain secondary to phosphorylation on serine 50 by ERK. Concurrently, activated m-calpain is localized to its inner membrane milieu by binding to phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PIP(2)). Opposing this, CXCR3 ligands inhibit cell migration by blocking m-calpain activity secondary to a PKA-mediated phosphorylation in the C2-like domain. The failure of m-calpain activation in the absence of PIP(2) points to a key regulatory role, although whether this PIP(2)-mediated membrane localization is regulatory for m-calpain activity or merely serves as a docking site for ERK phosphorylation is uncertain. Herein, we report the effects of two CXCR3 ligands, CXCL11/IP-9/I-TAC and CXCL10/IP-10, on the EGF- and VEGF-induced redistribution of m-calpain in human fibroblasts and endothelial cells. The two chemokines block the tail retraction and, thus, the migration within minutes, preventing and reverting growth factor-induced relocalization of m-calpain to the plasma membrane of the cells. PKA phosphorylation of m-calpain blocks the binding of the protease to PIP(2). Unexpectedly, we found that this was due to membrane anchorage itself and not merely serine 50 phosphorylation, as the farnesylation-induced anchorage of m-calpain triggers a strong activation of this protease, leading notably to an increased cell death. Moreover, the ERK and PKA phosphorylations have no effect on this membrane-anchored m-calpain. However, the presence of PIP(2) is still required for the activation of the anchored m-calpain. In conclusion, we describe a novel mechanism of m-calpain activation by interaction with the plasma membrane and PIP(2) specifically, this phosphoinositide acting as a cofactor for the enzyme. The phosphorylation of m-calpain by ERK and PKA by growth factors and chemokines, respectively, act in cells to regulate the enzyme only indirectly by controlling its redistribution.

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