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J Biol Chem. 2006 Jul 14;281(28):19561-9. Epub 2006 May 1.

Phosphorylation of microtubule-associated protein STOP by calmodulin kinase II.

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Laboratoire du Cytosquelette, INSERM U366, DRDC/CS, CEA-Grenoble, 17 Rue des Martyrs, 38054 Grenoble cedex 9, France.


STOP proteins are microtubule-associated, calmodulin-regulated proteins responsible for the high degree of stabilization displayed by neuronal microtubules. STOP suppression in mice induces synaptic defects affecting both short and long term synaptic plasticity in hippocampal neurons. Interestingly, STOP has been identified as a component of synaptic structures in neurons, despite the absence of microtubules in nerve terminals, indicating the existence of mechanisms able to induce a translocation of STOP from microtubules to synaptic compartments. Here we have tested STOP phosphorylation as a candidate mechanism for STOP relocalization. We show that, both in vitro and in vivo, STOP is phosphorylated by the multifunctional enzyme calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII), which is a key enzyme for synaptic plasticity. This phosphorylation occurs on at least two independent sites. Phosphorylated forms of STOP do not bind microtubules in vitro and do not co-localize with microtubules in cultured differentiating neurons. Instead, phosphorylated STOP co-localizes with actin assemblies along neurites or at branching points. Correlatively, we find that STOP binds to actin in vitro. Finally, in differentiated neurons, phosphorylated STOP co-localizes with clusters of synaptic proteins, whereas unphosphorylated STOP does not. Thus, STOP phosphorylation by CaMKII may promote STOP translocation from microtubules to synaptic compartments where it may interact with actin, which could be important for STOP function in synaptic plasticity.

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