Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Chair of Metabolic Biochemistry

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Identification and characterization of neuronal mitogen-activated protein kinase substrates using a specific phosphomotif antibody

Mol Cell Proteomics. 2009 Apr;8(4):681-95. Epub 2008 Dec 3.

Authors/Editors: Cheng D
Batterton MN
Wang CF
Duong DM
Yaffe MB
Peng J
Sheng M
Publication Date: 2009
Type of Publication: Journal Article
Mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) control neuronal synaptic function; however, little is known about the synaptic substrates regulated by MAPKs. A phosphopeptide library incorporating the MAPK consensus motif (PX(pS/pT)P where pS is phosphoserine and pT is phosphothreonine) was used to raise a phosphospecific antibody that detected MAPK-mediated phosphorylation. The antibody (termed "5557") recognized a variety of phosphoproteins in the brain, many of which were enriched in postsynaptic density fractions. The immunoblot pattern changed rapidly in response to altered synaptic activity and with the inhibition of specific MAPKs and protein phosphatases. By immunoaffinity purification with 5557 antibody followed by mass spectrometry, we identified 449 putative MAPK substrates of which many appeared dynamically regulated in neuron cultures. Several of the novel candidate MAPK substrates were validated by in vitro phosphorylation assays. Additionally 82 specific phosphorylation sites were identified in 34 proteins, including Ser-447 in delta-catenin, a component of the cadherin adhesion complex. We further raised another phosphospecific antibody to confirm that delta-catenin Ser-447 is modified in neurons by the MAPK JNK in a synaptic activity-dependent manner. Ser-447 phosphorylation by JNK appears to be correlated with delta-catenin degradation, and a delta-catenin mutant defective in Ser-447 phosphorylation showed enhanced ability to promote dendrite branching in cultured neurons. Thus, phosphomotif-based affinity purification is a powerful approach to identify novel substrates of MAPKs in vivo and to reveal functionally significant phosphorylation events.

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