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J Mol Biol. 2009 Jul 24;390(4):618-34. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2009.05.060. Epub 2009 May 27.

Regiospecific phosphorylation control of the SR protein ASF/SF2 by SRPK1.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, University of California, La Jolla, CA 92093-0636, USA.


SR proteins (splicing factors containing arginine-serine repeats) are essential factors that control the splicing of precursor mRNA by regulating multiple steps in spliceosome development. The prototypical SR protein ASF/SF2 (human alternative splicing factor) contains two N-terminal RNA recognition motifs (RRMs) (RRM1 and RRM2) and a 50-residue C-terminal RS (arginine-serine-rich) domain that can be phosphorylated at numerous serines by the protein kinase SR-specific protein kinase (SRPK) 1. The RS domain [C-terminal domain that is rich in arginine-serine repeats (residues 198-248)] is further divided into N-terminal [RS1: N-terminal portion of the RS domain (residues 198-227)] and C-terminal [RS2: C-terminal portion of the RS domain (residues 228-248)] segments whose modification guides the nuclear localization of ASF/SF2. While previous studies revealed that SRPK1 phosphorylates RS1, regiospecific and temporal-specific control within the largely redundant RS domain is not well understood. To address this issue, we performed engineered footprinting and single-turnover experiments to determine where and how SRPK1 initiates phosphorylation within the RS domain. The data show that local sequence elements in the RS domain control the strong kinetic preference for RS1 phosphorylation. SRPK1 initiates phosphorylation in a small region of serines (initiation box) in the middle of the RS domain at the C-terminal end of RS1 and then proceeds in an N-terminal direction. This initiation process requires both a viable docking groove in the large lobe of SRPK1 and one RRM (RRM2) on the N-terminal flank of the RS domain. Thus, while local RS/SR content steers regional preferences in the RS domain, distal contacts with SRPK1 guide initiation and directional phosphorylation within these regions.

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