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PLoS One. 2011;6(11):e27637. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0027637. Epub 2011 Nov 11.

p21-Activated kinase 1 (Pak1) phosphorylates BAD directly at serine 111 in vitro and indirectly through Raf-1 at serine 112.

Author information

1
Department of Pharmacology, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Cell survival depends on the balance between protective and apoptotic signals. When the balance of signals tips towards apoptosis, cells undergo programmed cell death. This balance has profound implications in diseases including cancer. Oncogenes and tumor suppressors are mutated to promote cell survival during tumor development, and many chemotherapeutic drugs kill tumor cells by stimulating apoptosis. BAD is a pro-apoptotic member of the Bcl-2 family of proteins, which can be phosphorylated on numerous sites to modulate binding to Bcl-2 and 14-3-3 proteins and inhibit its pro-apoptotic activities. One of the critical phosphorylation sites is the serine 112 (S112), which can be phosphorylated by several kinases including Pak1.

METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:

We mapped the Pak phosphorylation sites by making serine to alanine mutations in BAD and testing them as substrates in in vitro kinase assays. We found that the primary phosphorylation site is not S112 but serine 111 (S111), a site that is sometimes found phosphorylated in vivo. In transfection assays of HEK293T cells, we showed that Pak1 required Raf-1 to stimulate phosphorylation on S112. Mutating either S111 or S112 to alanine enhanced binding to Bcl-2, but the double mutant S111/112A bound better to Bcl-2. Moreover, BAD phosphorylation at S111 was observed in several other cell lines, and treating one of them with the Pak1 inhibitor 2,2'-Dihydroxy-1,1'-dinaphthyldisulfide (IPA-3) reduced phosphorylation primarily at S112 and to a smaller extent at S111, while Raf inhibitors only reduced phosphorylation at S112.

CONCLUSION/SIGNIFICANCE:

Together, these findings demonstrate that Pak1 phosphorylates BAD directly at S111, but phosphorylated S112 through Raf-1. These two sites of BAD serve as redundant regulatory sites for Bcl-2 binding.

PMID:
22096607
PMCID:
PMC3214075
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0027637
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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