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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1998 Dec 30;253(3):561-5.

C-terminal threonine phosphorylation activates ERM proteins to link the cell's cortical lipid bilayer to the cytoskeleton.

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Department of Internal Medicine and Cancer Research & Treatment Center, University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque 87131, USA.


The plasma membrane consists of a lipid bilayer with integral membrane proteins stabilized by regulated linkages to the cortical actin cytoskeleton. The regulation is necessary for cells to change shape ormigrate. The ERM (ezrin-radixin-moesin) proteins are believed to provide such links, with the N-terminal halves associating with integral membrane proteins, either directly or indirectly through adapter molecules like EBP50 (ERM binding phosphoprotein, 50 kDa), and their C-terminal halves associating with F-actin. However, isolated ERM proteins largely exist in a dormant state by virtue of an intramolecular interaction between amino- and carboxyl-terminal domains, thereby masking membrane and cytoskeletal association sites. C-terminal threonine phosphorylation of a fragment of radixin has been found to destroy its ability to bind the amino-terminal domain without affecting the C-terminal F-actin binding site. Here we show that C-terminal phosphorylation of full-length, dormant ezrin and moesin by protein kinase C-theta simultaneously unmasks both the F-actin and EBP50 binding sites. Increased phosphorylation of moesin in cells correlated with increased association of moesin with the cortical actin cytoskeleton. These results show that activation of ERM proteins can be accomplished by phosphorylation of a single C-terminal threonine residue.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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