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Cell Adh Migr. 2007 Oct-Dec;1(4):196-8. Epub 2007 Oct 22.

Phosphorylation of merlin regulates its stability and tumor suppressive activity.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, 615 Michael Street, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.


The neurofibromatosis-2 (NF2) tumor suppressor protein, merlin or schwannomin, inhibits cell proliferation by modulating the growth activities of its binding partners, including the cell surface glycoprotein CD44, membrane-cytoskeleton linker protein ezrin and PIKE (PI 3-kinase enhancer) GTPase, etc. Merlin exerts its growth suppressive activity through a folded conformation that is tightly controlled through phosphorylation by numerous protein kinases including PAK, PKA and Akt. Merlin inhibits PI 3-kinase activity through binding to PIKE-L. Now, we show that merlin is a physiological substrate of Akt, which phosphorylates merlin on both T230 and S315 residues. This phosphorylation abolishes the folded conformation of merlin and inhibits its association with PIKE-L, provoking merlin polyubiquitination and proteasome-mediated degradation. This finding demonstrates a negative feed-back loop from merlin/PIKE-L/PI 3-kinase to Akt in tumors- The proliferation repressive activity of merlin is also partially regulated by S518 phosphorylation- Thus, Akt-mediated merlin T230/S315 phosphorylation, combined with S518 phosphorylation by PAK and PKA, provides new insight into abrogating merlin function in the absence of merlin mutational inactivation.

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