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J Biol Chem. 2004 Sep 10;279(37):38912-20. Epub 2004 Jul 13.

Overlapping binding sites in protein phosphatase 2A for association with regulatory A and alpha-4 (mTap42) subunits.

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Center for Cell Signaling, University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville, Virginia 22908, USA.


Diverse functions of protein Ser/Thr phosphatases depend on the distribution of the catalytic subunits among multiple regulatory subunits. In cells protein phosphatase 2A catalytic subunit (PP2Ac) mostly binds to a scaffold subunit (A subunit or PR65); however, PP2Ac alternatively binds to alpha-4, a subunit related to yeast Tap42 protein, which also associates with phosphatases PP4 or PP6. We mapped alpha-4 binding to PP2Ac to the helical domain, residues 19-165. We mutated selected residues and transiently expressed epitope-tagged PP2Ac to assay for association with A and alpha-4 subunits by co-precipitation. The disabling H118N mutation at the active site or the presence of the active site inhibitor microcystin-LR did not interfere with binding of PP2Ac to either the A subunit or alpha-4, showing that these are allosteric regulators. Positively charged side chains Lys(41), Arg(49), and Lys(74) on the back surface of PP2Ac are unique to PP2Ac, compared with phosphatases PP4, PP6, and PP1. Substitution of one, two, or three of these residues with Ala produced a progressive loss of binding to the A subunit, with a corresponding increase in binding to alpha-4. Conversely, mutation of Glu(42) in PP2Ac essentially eliminated PP2Ac binding to alpha-4, with an increase in binding to the A subunit. Reciprocal changes in binding because of mutations indicate competitive distribution of PP2Ac between these regulatory subunits and demonstrate that the mutated catalytic subunits retained a native conformation. Furthermore, neither the Lys(41)-Arg(49)-Lys(74) nor Glu(42) mutations affected the phosphatase-specific activity or binding to microcystin-agarose. Binding of PP2Ac to microcystin and to alpha-4 increased with temperature, consistent with an activation energy barrier for these interactions. Our results reveal that the A subunit and alpha-4 (mTap42) require charged residues in separate but overlapping surface regions to associate with the back side of PP2Ac and modulate phosphatase activity.

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