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J Biol Chem. 2007 Oct 5;282(40):29531-9. Epub 2007 Aug 11.

Phosphorylation blocks the activity of tubulin polymerization-promoting protein (TPPP): identification of sites targeted by different kinases.

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  • 1Institute of Enzymology, Biological Research Center, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, H-1113, Hungary.


Tubulin polymerization-promoting protein (TPPP), an unfolded brain-specific protein interacts with the tubulin/microtubule system in vitro and in vivo, and is enriched in human pathological brain inclusions. Here we show that TPPP induces tubulin self-assembly into intact frequently bundled microtubules, and that the phosphorylation of specific sites distinctly affects the function of TPPP. In vitro phosphorylation of wild type and the truncated form (Delta3-43TPPP) of human recombinant TPPP was performed by kinases involved in brain-specific processes. A stoichiometry of 2.9 +/- 0.3, 2.2 +/- 0.3, and 0.9 +/- 0.1 mol P/mol protein with ERK2, cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5), and cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA), respectively, was revealed for the full-length protein, and 0.4-0.5 mol P/mol protein was detected with all three kinases when the N-terminal tail was deleted. The phosphorylation sites Thr(14), Ser(18), Ser(160) for Cdk5; Ser(18), Ser(160) for ERK2, and Ser(32) for PKA were identified by mass spectrometry. These sites were consistent with the bioinformatic predictions. The three N-terminal sites were also found to be phosphorylated in vivo in TPPP isolated from bovine brain. Affinity binding experiments provided evidence for the direct interaction between TPPP and ERK2. The phosphorylation of TPPP by ERK2 or Cdk5, but not by PKA, perturbed the structural alterations induced by the interaction between TPPP and tubulin without affecting the binding affinity (K(d) = 2.5-2.7 microM) or the stoichiometry (1 mol TPPP/mol tubulin) of the complex. The phosphorylation by ERK2 or Cdk5 resulted in the loss of microtubule-assembling activity of TPPP. The combination of our in vitro and in vivo data suggests that ERK2 can regulate TPPP activity via the phosphorylation of Thr(14) and/or Ser(18) in its unfolded N-terminal tail.

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