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1.  Myosin Light Chain–activating Phosphorylation Sites Are Required for Oogenesis in Drosophila  
The Journal of Cell Biology  1997;139(7):1805-1819.
The Drosophila spaghetti squash (sqh) gene encodes the regulatory myosin light chain (RMLC) of nonmuscle myosin II. Biochemical analysis of vertebrate nonmuscle and smooth muscle myosin II has established that phosphorylation of certain amino acids of the RMLC greatly increases the actin-dependent myosin ATPase and motor activity of myosin in vitro. We have assessed the in vivo importance of these sites, which in Drosophila correspond to serine-21 and threonine-20, by creating a series of transgenes in which these specific amino acids were altered. The phenotypes of the transgenes were examined in an otherwise null mutant background during oocyte development in Drosophila females.
Germ line cystoblasts entirely lacking a functional sqh gene show severe defects in proliferation and cytokinesis. The ring canals, cytoplasmic bridges linking the oocyte to the nurse cells in the egg chamber, are abnormal, suggesting a role of myosin II in their establishment or maintenance. In addition, numerous aggregates of myosin heavy chain accumulate in the sqh null cells. Mutant sqh transgene sqh-A20, A21 in which both serine-21 and threonine-20 have been replaced by alanines behaves in most respects identically to the null allele in this system, with the exception that no heavy chain aggregates are found. In contrast, expression of sqh-A21, in which only the primary phosphorylation target serine-21 site is altered, partially restores functionality to germ line myosin II, allowing cystoblast division and oocyte development, albeit with some cytokinesis failure, defects in the rapid cytoplasmic transport from nurse cells to cytoplasm characteristic of late stage oogenesis, and some damaged ring canals. Substituting a glutamate for the serine-21 (mutant sqh-E21) allows oogenesis to be completed with minimal defects, producing eggs that can develop normally to produce fertile adults. Flies expressing sqh-A20, in which only the secondary phosphorylation site is absent, appear to be entirely wild type. Taken together, this genetic evidence argues that phosphorylation at serine-21 is critical to RMLC function in activating myosin II in vivo, but that the function can be partially provided by phosphorylation at threonine-20.
PMCID: PMC2132636  PMID: 9412474
2.  Overlapping Roles of Drosophila Drak and Rok Kinases in Epithelial Tissue Morphogenesis 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2010;21(16):2869-2879.
Actomyosin contractility provides an essential source of tension for shaping epithelial tissues. We show that the Drosophila Death-associated protein kinase homologue Drak regulates Myosin regulatory light chain phosphorylation in a partially redundant manner with the Rho effector kinase Rok to shape developing epithelial tissues.
Dynamic regulation of cytoskeletal contractility through phosphorylation of the nonmuscle Myosin-II regulatory light chain (MRLC) provides an essential source of tension for shaping epithelial tissues. Rho GTPase and its effector kinase ROCK have been implicated in regulating MRLC phosphorylation in vivo, but evidence suggests that other mechanisms must be involved. Here, we report the identification of a single Drosophila homologue of the Death-associated protein kinase (DAPK) family, called Drak, as a regulator of MRLC phosphorylation. Based on analysis of null mutants, we find that Drak broadly promotes proper morphogenesis of epithelial tissues during development. Drak activity is largely redundant with that of the Drosophila ROCK orthologue, Rok, such that it is essential only when Rok levels are reduced. We demonstrate that these two kinases synergistically promote phosphorylation of Spaghetti squash (Sqh), the Drosophila MRLC orthologue, in vivo. The lethality of drak/rok mutants can be rescued by restoring Sqh activity, indicating that Sqh is the critical common effector of these two kinases. These results provide the first evidence that DAPK family kinases regulate actin dynamics in vivo and identify Drak as a novel component of the signaling networks that shape epithelial tissues.
PMCID: PMC2921115  PMID: 20573980
3.  The Essential Role of PP1β in Drosophila Is to Regulate Nonmuscle MyosinD⃞ 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2004;15(10):4395-4405.
Reversible phosphorylation of myosin regulatory light chain (MRLC) is a key regulatory mechanism controlling myosin activity and thus regulating the actin/myosin cytoskeleton. We show that Drosophila PP1β, a specific isoform of serine/threonine protein phosphatase 1 (PP1), regulates nonmuscle myosin and that this is the essential role of PP1β. Loss of PP1β leads to increased levels of phosphorylated nonmuscle MRLC (Sqh) and actin disorganisation; these phenotypes can be suppressed by reducing the amount of active myosin. Drosophila has two nonmuscle myosin targeting subunits, one of which (MYPT-75D) resembles MYPT3, binds specifically to PP1β, and activates PP1β's Sqh phosphatase activity. Expression of a mutant form of MYPT-75D that is unable to bind PP1 results in elevation of Sqh phosphorylation in vivo and leads to phenotypes that can also be suppressed by reducing the amount of active myosin. The similarity between fly and human PP1β and MYPT genes suggests this role may be conserved.
PMCID: PMC519135  PMID: 15269282
4.  Excessive Myosin Activity in Mbs Mutants Causes Photoreceptor Movement Out of the Drosophila Eye Disc Epithelium 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2004;15(7):3285-3295.
Neuronal cells must extend a motile growth cone while maintaining the cell body in its original position. In migrating cells, myosin contraction provides the driving force that pulls the rear of the cell toward the leading edge. We have characterized the function of myosin light chain phosphatase, which down-regulates myosin activity, in Drosophila photoreceptor neurons. Mutations in the gene encoding the myosin binding subunit of this enzyme cause photoreceptors to drop out of the eye disc epithelium and move toward and through the optic stalk. We show that this phenotype is due to excessive phosphorylation of the myosin regulatory light chain Spaghetti squash rather than another potential substrate, Moesin, and that it requires the nonmuscle myosin II heavy chain Zipper. Myosin binding subunit mutant cells continue to express apical epithelial markers and do not undergo ectopic apical constriction. In addition, mutant cells in the wing disc remain within the epithelium and differentiate abnormal wing hairs. We suggest that excessive myosin activity in photoreceptor neurons may pull the cell bodies toward the growth cones in a process resembling normal cell migration.
PMCID: PMC452583  PMID: 15075368
5.  Regulation of Myosin II Dynamics by Phosphorylation and Dephosphorylation of Its Light Chain in Epithelial Cells 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2007;18(2):605-616.
Nonmuscle myosin II, an actin-based motor protein, plays an essential role in actin cytoskeleton organization and cellular motility. Although phosphorylation of its regulatory light chain (MRLC) is known to be involved in myosin II filament assembly and motor activity in vitro, it remains unclear exactly how MRLC phosphorylation regulates myosin II dynamics in vivo. We established clones of Madin Darby canine kidney II epithelial cells expressing MRLC-enhanced green fluorescent protein or its mutants. Time-lapse imaging revealed that both phosphorylation and dephosphorylation are required for proper dynamics of myosin II. Inhibitors affecting myosin phosphorylation and MRLC mutants indicated that monophosphorylation of MRLC is required and sufficient for maintenance of stress fibers. Diphosphorylated MRLC stabilized myosin II filaments and was distributed locally in regions of stress fibers where contraction occurs, suggesting that diphosphorylation is involved in the spatial regulation of myosin II assembly and contraction. We further found that myosin phosphatase or Zipper-interacting protein kinase localizes to stress fibers depending on the activity of myosin II ATPase.
PMCID: PMC1783795  PMID: 17151359
6.  Quantifying myosin light chain phosphorylation in single adherent cells with automated fluorescence microscopy 
BMC Cell Biology  2007;8:43.
In anchorage dependent cells, myosin generated contractile forces affect events closely associated with adhesion such as the formation of stress fibers and focal adhesions, and temporally distal events such as entry of the cell into S-phase. As occurs in many signaling pathways, a phosphorylation reaction (in this case, phosphorylation of myosin light chain) is directly responsible for cell response. Western blotting has been useful in measuring intracellular phosphorylation events, but cells are lysed in the process of sample preparation for western blotting, and spatial information such as morphology, localization of the phosphorylated species, and the distribution of individual cell responses across the population is lost. We report here a reliable automated microscopy method for quantitative measurement of myosin light chain phosphorylation in adherent cells. This method allows us to concurrently examine cell morphology, cell-cell contact, and myosin light chain diphosphorylation in vascular smooth muscle cells.
Paraformaldehyde fixation and Triton X-100 permeabilization preserved cell morphology and myosin light chain phosphorylation better than the alternative fixation/permeabilization methods tested. We utilized automated microscopy methods to acquire three color images, determine cell spread area, and quantify the intensity of staining within each cell with anti-phospho-MLC antibody. Our results indicate that A10 rat aortic smooth muscle cells exhibit a re producible non-Gaussian distribution of MLC phosphorylation across a population of unsynchronized genetically identical cells. Adding an inhibitor of Rho kinase, Y27632, or plating cells on a low density of fibronectin, reduced phospho-myosin light chain signal as expected. On the other hand, adding calyculin A, an activator of contractility, increased myosin light chain phosphorylation. The IC50 for myosin light chain phosphorylation using Y27632 was determined to be 2.1 ± 0.6 micrometers. We observed a positive linear relationship between cell area and myosin light chain diphosphorylation, which is consistent with what has been reported in the literature using other methods.
Our results show that using proper specimen fixation techniques and background subtraction methods, imaging cytometry can be used to reliably measure relative myosin light chain phosphorylation in individual adherent cells. Importantly, the ability to make this measurement in adherent cells allows for simultaneous measurement of and correlation with other parameters of cellular topography such as morphology and cell-cell proximity. This assay has potential application in screening for drug development.
PMCID: PMC2213650  PMID: 17941977
7.  Myosin light chain kinase-regulated endothelial cell contraction: the relationship between isometric tension, actin polymerization, and myosin phosphorylation 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1995;130(3):613-627.
The phosphorylation of regulatory myosin light chains by the Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent enzyme myosin light chain kinase (MLCK) has been shown to be essential and sufficient for initiation of endothelial cell retraction in saponin permeabilized monolayers (Wysolmerski, R. B. and D. Lagunoff. 1990. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 87:16-20). We now report the effects of thrombin stimulation on human umbilical vein endothelial cell (HUVE) actin, myosin II and the functional correlate of the activated actomyosin based contractile system, isometric tension development. Using a newly designed isometric tension apparatus, we recorded quantitative changes in isometric tension from paired monolayers. Thrombin stimulation results in a rapid sustained isometric contraction that increases 2- to 2.5-fold within 5 min and remains elevated for at least 60 min. The phosphorylatable myosin light chains from HUVE were found to exist as two isoforms, differing in their molecular weights and isoelectric points. Resting isometric tension is associated with a basal phosphorylation of 0.54 mol PO4/mol myosin light chain. After thrombin treatment, phosphorylation rapidly increases to 1.61 mol PO4/mol myosin light chain within 60 s and remains elevated for the duration of the experiment. Myosin light chain phosphorylation precedes the development of isometric tension and maximal phosphorylation is maintained during the sustained phase of isometric contraction. Tryptic phosphopeptide maps from both control and thrombin-stimulated cultures resolve both monophosphorylated Ser-19 and diphosphorylated Ser-19/Thr-18 peptides indicative of MLCK activation. Changes in the polymerization of actin and association of myosin II correlate temporally with the phosphorylation of myosin II and development of isometric tension. Activation results in a 57% increase in F-actin content within 90 s and 90% of the soluble myosin II associates with the reorganizing F-actin. Furthermore, the disposition of actin and myosin II undergoes striking reorganization. F- actin initially forms a fine network of filaments that fills the cytoplasm and then reorganizes into prominent stress fibers. Myosin II rapidly forms discrete aggregates associated with the actin network and by 2.5 min assumes a distinct periodic distribution along the stress fibers.
PMCID: PMC2120532  PMID: 7622562
8.  Dynamic myosin phosphorylation regulates contractile pulses and tissue integrity during epithelial morphogenesis 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2014;206(3):435-450.
Dynamic regulation of Myo-II by Rho kinase and myosin phosphatase organizes contractile Myo-II pulses in both space and time, which is necessary to maintain tissue integrity during morphogenesis.
Apical constriction is a cell shape change that promotes epithelial bending. Activation of nonmuscle myosin II (Myo-II) by kinases such as Rho-associated kinase (Rok) is important to generate contractile force during apical constriction. Cycles of Myo-II assembly and disassembly, or pulses, are associated with apical constriction during Drosophila melanogaster gastrulation. It is not understood whether Myo-II phosphoregulation organizes contractile pulses or whether pulses are important for tissue morphogenesis. Here, we show that Myo-II pulses are associated with pulses of apical Rok. Mutants that mimic Myo-II light chain phosphorylation or depletion of myosin phosphatase inhibit Myo-II contractile pulses, disrupting both actomyosin coalescence into apical foci and cycles of Myo-II assembly/disassembly. Thus, coupling dynamic Myo-II phosphorylation to upstream signals organizes contractile Myo-II pulses in both space and time. Mutants that mimic Myo-II phosphorylation undergo continuous, rather than incremental, apical constriction. These mutants fail to maintain intercellular actomyosin network connections during tissue invagination, suggesting that Myo-II pulses are required for tissue integrity during morphogenesis.
PMCID: PMC4121972  PMID: 25092658
9.  Aurora B but Not Rho/MLCK Signaling Is Required for Localization of Diphosphorylated Myosin II Regulatory Light Chain to the Midzone in Cytokinesis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e70965.
Non-muscle myosin II is stimulated by monophosphorylation of its regulatory light chain (MRLC) at Ser19 (1P-MRLC). MRLC diphosphorylation at Thr18/Ser19 (2P-MRLC) further enhances the ATPase activity of myosin II. Phosphorylated MRLCs localize to the contractile ring and regulate cytokinesis as subunits of activated myosin II. Recently, we reported that 2P-MRLC, but not 1P-MRLC, localizes to the midzone independently of myosin II heavy chain during cytokinesis in cultured mammalian cells. However, the mechanism underlying the distinct localization of 1P- and 2P-MRLC during cytokinesis is unknown. Here, we showed that depletion of the Rho signaling proteins MKLP1, MgcRacGAP, or ECT2 inhibited the localization of 1P-MRLC to the contractile ring but not the localization of 2P-MRLC to the midzone. In contrast, depleting or inhibiting a midzone-localizing kinase, Aurora B, perturbed the localization of 2P-MRLC to the midzone but not the localization of 1P-MRLC to the contractile ring. We did not observe any change in the localization of phosphorylated MRLC in myosin light-chain kinase (MLCK)-inhibited cells. Furrow regression was observed in Aurora B- and 2P-MRLC-inhibited cells but not in 1P-MRLC-perturbed dividing cells. Furthermore, Aurora B bound to 2P-MRLC in vitro and in vivo. These results suggest that Aurora B, but not Rho/MLCK signaling, is essential for the localization of 2P-MRLC to the midzone in dividing HeLa cells.
PMCID: PMC3737224  PMID: 23951055
10.  Citron Kinase, a Rho-dependent Kinase, Induces Di-phosphorylation of Regulatory Light Chain of Myosin II 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2003;14(5):1745-1756.
Citron kinase is a Rho-effector protein kinase that is related to Rho-associated kinases of ROCK/ROK/Rho-kinase family. Both ROCK and citron kinase are suggested to play a role in cytokinesis. However, no substrates are known for citron kinase. We found that citron kinase phosphorylated regulatory light chain (MLC) of myosin II at both Ser-19 and Thr-18 in vitro. Unlike ROCK, however, citron kinase did not phosphorylate the myosin binding subunit of myosin phosphatase, indicating that it does not inhibit myosin phosphatase. We found that the expression of the kinase domain of citron kinase resulted in an increase in MLC di-phosphorylation. Furthermore, the kinase domain was able to increase di-phosphorylation and restore stress fiber assembly even when ROCK was inhibited with a specific inhibitor, Y-27632. The expression of full-length citron kinase also increased di-phosphorylation during cytokinesis. These observations suggest that citron kinase phosphorylates MLC to generate di-phosphorylated MLC in vivo. Although both mono- and di-phosphorylated MLC were found in cleavage furrows, di-phosphorylated MLC showed more constrained localization than did mono-phosphorylated MLC. Because citron kinase is localized in cleavage furrows, citron kinase may be involved in regulating di-phosphorylation of MLC during cytokinesis.
PMCID: PMC165073  PMID: 12802051
11.  Asymmetric Distribution of Myosin IIB in Migrating Endothelial Cells Is Regulated by a rho-dependent Kinase and Contributes to Tail Retraction 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2003;14(12):4745-4757.
All vertebrates contain two nonmuscle myosin II heavy chains, A and B, which differ in tissue expression and subcellular distributions. To understand how these distinct distributions are controlled and what role they play in cell migration, myosin IIA and IIB were examined during wound healing by bovine aortic endothelial cells. Immunofluorescence showed that myosin IIA skewed toward the front of migrating cells, coincident with actin assembly at the leading edge, whereas myosin IIB accumulated in the rear 15–30 min later. Inhibition of myosin light-chain kinase, protein kinases A, C, and G, tyrosine kinase, MAP kinase, and PIP3 kinase did not affect this asymmetric redistribution of myosin isoforms. However, posterior accumulation of myosin IIB, but not anterior distribution of myosin IIA, was inhibited by dominant-negative rhoA and by the rho-kinase inhibitor, Y-27632, which also inhibited myosin light-chain phosphorylation. This inhibition was overcome by transfecting cells with constitutively active myosin light-chain kinase. These observations indicate that asymmetry of myosin IIB, but not IIA, is regulated by light-chain phosphorylation mediated by rho-dependent kinase. Blocking this pathway inhibited tail constriction and retraction, but did not affect protrusion, suggesting that myosin IIB functions in pulling the rear of the cell forward.
PMCID: PMC284780  PMID: 12960430
12.  ZIP kinase is responsible for the phosphorylation of myosin II and necessary for cell motility in mammalian fibroblasts 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2004;165(2):243-254.
Reorganization of actomyosin is an essential process for cell migration and myosin regulatory light chain (MLC20) phosphorylation plays a key role in this process. Here, we found that zipper-interacting protein (ZIP) kinase plays a predominant role in myosin II phosphorylation in mammalian fibroblasts. Using two phosphorylation site-specific antibodies, we demonstrated that a significant portion of the phosphorylated MLC20 is diphosphorylated and that the localization of mono- and diphosphorylated myosin is different from each other. The kinase responsible for the phosphorylation was ZIP kinase because (a) the kinase in the cell extracts phosphorylated Ser19 and Thr18 of MLC20 with similar potency; (b) immunodepletion of ZIP kinase from the cell extracts markedly diminished its myosin II kinase activity; and (c) disruption of ZIP kinase expression by RNA interference diminished myosin phosphorylation, and resulted in the defect of cell polarity and migration efficiency. These results suggest that ZIP kinase is critical for myosin phosphorylation and necessary for cell motile processes in mammalian fibroblasts.
PMCID: PMC2172045  PMID: 15096528
migration; siRNA; nonmuscle; localization; Rho-kinase
13.  Analysis of the role of Ser1/Ser2/Thr9 phosphorylation on myosin II assembly and function in live cells 
BMC Cell Biology  2011;12:52.
Phosphorylation of non-muscle myosin II regulatory light chain (RLC) at Thr18/Ser19 is well established as a key regulatory event that controls myosin II assembly and activation, both in vitro and in living cells. RLC can also be phosphorylated at Ser1/Ser2/Thr9 by protein kinase C (PKC). Biophysical studies show that phosphorylation at these sites leads to an increase in the Km of myosin light chain kinase (MLCK) for RLC, thereby indirectly inhibiting myosin II activity. Despite unequivocal evidence that PKC phosphorylation at Ser1/Ser2/Thr9 can regulate myosin II function in vitro, there is little evidence that this mechanism regulates myosin II function in live cells.
The purpose of these studies was to investigate the role of Ser1/Ser2/Thr9 phosphorylation in live cells. To do this we utilized phospho-specific antibodies and created GFP-tagged RLC reporters with phosphomimetic aspartic acid substitutions or unphosphorylatable alanine substitutions at the putative inhibitory sites or the previously characterized activation sites. Cell lines stably expressing the RLC-GFP constructs were assayed for myosin recruitment during cell division, the ability to complete cell division, and myosin assembly levels under resting or spreading conditions. Our data shows that manipulation of the activation sites (Thr18/Ser19) significantly alters myosin II function in a number of these assays while manipulation of the putative inhibitory sites (Ser1/Ser2/Thr9) does not.
These studies suggest that inhibitory phosphorylation of RLC is not a substantial regulatory mechanism, although we cannot rule out its role in other cellular processes or perhaps other types of cells or tissues in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3257205  PMID: 22136066
14.  Nonmuscle myosin IIA with a GFP fused to the N-terminus of the regulatory light chain is regulated normally 
Nonmuscle myosin II plays a crucial role in a variety of cellular processes (e.g., polarity formation, cell motility, and cytokinesis). It is composed of two heavy chains, two regulatory light chains and two essential light chains. The ATPase activity of the myosin II motor domain is regulated through phosphorylation of the regulatory light chain (RLC) by myosin light chain kinase. To study myosin function and localization in cellular processes, GFP-fused RLCs are widely used; however, the exact kinetic properties of myosins with bound GFP-RLC are poorly described. More importantly, it has not been shown that a regulatory light chain fused at its N-terminus with GFP can maintain the normal phosphorylation-dependent regulation of nonmuscle myosin or serve as a substrate for myosin light chain kinase. We coexpressed N-terminal GFP-RLC with a heavy meromyosin (HMM)-like fragment of nonmuscle myosin IIA and essential light chain to characterize the phosphorylation dynamics and in vitro kinetic properties of the resulting HMM. Myosin light chain kinase phosphorylates the GFP-RLC bound to HMM IIA with the same Vmax as it does the wild type RLC bound to HMM IIA, but the Km is about two fold higher for the GFP fusion protein, meaning that it is a somewhat poorer substrate. The steady-state actin-activated MgATPase activity of the GFP-RLC HMM is very low in the absence of phosphorylation demonstrating that the GFP moiety does not prevent formation of the off state. The actin-activated MgATPase activity of phosphorylated GFP-RLC-HMM and is about half that of wild type phosphorylated HMM. The ability of phosphorylated GFP-RLC-HMM to move actin filaments in the actin gliding assay is also slightly compromised. These data indicate that despite some kinetic differences the N-terminal GFP fusion to the regulatory light chain is a reasonable model system for studying myosin function in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3786345  PMID: 20711642
GFP; Nonmuscle myosin; Regulatory light chain; Enzymatic activity; In vitro motility
15.  Drosophila PATJ supports adherens junction stability by modulating Myosin light chain activity 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2012;199(4):685-698.
PATJ indirectly promotes apical–basal polarity in epithelial cells by enhancing Myosin phosphorylation and thereby stabilizing adherens junctions.
The assembly and consolidation of the adherens junctions (AJs) are key events in the establishment of an intact epithelium. However, AJs are further modified to obtain flexibility for cell migration and morphogenetic movements. Intact AJs in turn are a prerequisite for the establishment and maintenance of apical–basal polarity in epithelial cells. In this study, we report that the conserved PDZ (PSD95, Discs large, ZO-1) domain–containing protein PATJ (Pals1-associated tight junction protein) was not per se crucial for the maintenance of apical–basal polarity in Drosophila melanogaster epithelial cells but rather regulated Myosin localization and phosphorylation. PATJ directly bound to the Myosin-binding subunit of Myosin phosphatase and decreased Myosin dephosphorylation, resulting in activated Myosin. Thereby, PATJ supports the stability of the Zonula Adherens. Notably, weakening of AJ in a PATJ mutant epithelium led first to a loss of Myosin from the AJ, subsequently to a disassembly of the AJ, and finally, to a loss of apical–basal polarity and disruption of the tissue.
PMCID: PMC3494860  PMID: 23128243
16.  Rho Kinase's Role in Myosin Recruitment to the Equatorial Cortex of Mitotic Drosophila S2 Cells Is for Myosin Regulatory Light Chain Phosphorylation 
PLoS ONE  2006;1(1):e131.
Myosin II recruitment to the equatorial cortex is one of the earliest events in establishment of the cytokinetic contractile ring. In Drosophila S2 cells, we previously showed that myosin II is recruited to the furrow independently of F-actin, and that Rho1 and Rok are essential for this recruitment [1]. Rok phosphorylates several cellular proteins, including the myosin regulatory light chain (RLC).
Methodology/Principal Findings
Here we express phosphorylation state mimic constructs of the RLC in S2 cells to examine the role of RLC phosphorylation involving Rok in the localization of myosin. Phosphorylation of the RLC is required for myosin localization to the equatorial cortex during mitosis, and the essential role of Rok in this localization and for cytokinesis is to maintain phosphorylation of the RLC. The ability to regulate the RLC phosphorylation state spatio-temporally is not essential for the myosin localization. Furthermore, the essential role of Citron in cytokinesis is not phosphorylation of the RLC.
We conclude that the Rho1 pathway leading to myosin localization to the future cytokinetic furrow is relatively straightforward, where only Rok is needed, and it is only needed to maintain phosphorylation of the myosin RLC.
PMCID: PMC1762308  PMID: 17205135
17.  Drosophila Hox and Sex-Determination Genes Control Segment Elimination through EGFR and extramacrochetae Activity 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(8):e1002874.
The formation or suppression of particular structures is a major change occurring in development and evolution. One example of such change is the absence of the seventh abdominal segment (A7) in Drosophila males. We show here that there is a down-regulation of EGFR activity and fewer histoblasts in the male A7 in early pupae. If this activity is elevated, cell number increases and a small segment develops in the adult. At later pupal stages, the remaining precursors of the A7 are extruded under the epithelium. This extrusion requires the up-regulation of the HLH protein Extramacrochetae and correlates with high levels of spaghetti-squash, the gene encoding the regulatory light chain of the non-muscle myosin II. The Hox gene Abdominal-B controls both the down-regulation of spitz, a ligand of the EGFR pathway, and the up-regulation of extramacrochetae, and also regulates the transcription of the sex-determining gene doublesex. The male Doublesex protein, in turn, controls extramacrochetae and spaghetti-squash expression. In females, the EGFR pathway is also down-regulated in the A7 but extramacrochetae and spaghetti-squash are not up-regulated and extrusion of precursor cells is almost absent. Our results show the complex orchestration of cellular and genetic events that lead to this important sexually dimorphic character change.
Author Summary
Many species display sexually dimorphic characters in specific regions of their body. In Drosophila melanogaster, a striking difference between males and females is the development of the seventh abdominal segment (A7), absent in males. We have found that in the first 30 h of pupal development, proliferation in the male A7 is reduced as compared to that of other abdominal segments, resulting in a small primordium. The Epidermal growth factor receptor pathway, which is in part responsible for this reduction, is down-regulated in male A7 cells, and if the activity of the pathway is increased there is a small seventh segment in the adult male. In later stages of pupal development, the remaining cells of the male A7 invaginate and die, and this requires the activity of myosin regulated by the gene extramacrochetae. Extramacrochetae levels of expression are increased in the male, but not female, A7 cells, suggesting that the sex determination pathway regulates this sexual difference (absence or not of the A7) by governing this gene. The Hox gene Abdominal-B, required to specify the posterior abdominal segments, controls both down-regulation of the Epidermal growth factor receptor pathway and extrusion, the latter partly through the regulation of the transcription of doublesex, a key gene in the sex determination pathway.
PMCID: PMC3415437  PMID: 22912593
18.  Localization and Activity of Myosin Light Chain Kinase Isoforms during the Cell Cycle 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2000;151(3):697-708.
Phosphorylation on Ser 19 of the myosin II regulatory light chain by myosin light chain kinase (MLCK) regulates actomyosin contractility in smooth muscle and vertebrate nonmuscle cells. The smooth/nonmuscle MLCK gene locus produces two kinases, a high molecular weight isoform (long MLCK) and a low molecular weight isoform (short MLCK), that are differentially expressed in smooth and nonmuscle tissues. To study the relative localization of the MLCK isoforms in cultured nonmuscle cells and to determine the spatial and temporal dynamics of MLCK localization during mitosis, we constructed green fluorescent protein fusions of the long and short MLCKs. In interphase cells, localization of the long MLCK to stress fibers is mediated by five DXRXXL motifs, which span the junction of the NH2-terminal extension and the short MLCK. In contrast, localization of the long MLCK to the cleavage furrow in dividing cells requires the five DXRXXL motifs as well as additional amino acid sequences present in the NH2-terminal extension. Thus, it appears that nonmuscle cells utilize different mechanisms for targeting the long MLCK to actomyosin structures during interphase and mitosis. Further studies have shown that the long MLCK has twofold lower kinase activity in early mitosis than in interphase or in the early stages of postmitotic spreading. These findings suggest a model in which MLCK and the myosin II phosphatase (Totsukawa, G., Y. Yamakita, S. Yamashiro, H. Hosoya, D.J. Hartshorne, and F. Matsumura. 1999. J. Cell Biol. 144:735–744) act cooperatively to regulate the level of Ser 19–phosphorylated myosin II during mitosis and initiate cytokinesis through the activation of myosin II motor activity.
PMCID: PMC2185581  PMID: 11062269
myosin; phosphorylation; myosin light chain kinase; cell division; cytokinesis
19.  Cytoplasmic myosin from Drosophila melanogaster 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1986;103(4):1517-1525.
Myosin is identified and purified from three different established Drosophila melanogaster cell lines (Schneider's lines 2 and 3 and Kc). Purification entails lysis in a low salt, sucrose buffer that contains ATP, chromatography on DEAE-cellulose, precipitation with actin in the absence of ATP, gel filtration in a discontinuous KI-KCl buffer system, and hydroxylapatite chromatography. Yield of pure cytoplasmic myosin is 5-10%. This protein is identified as myosin by its cross-reactivity with two monoclonal antibodies against human platelet myosin, the molecular weight of its heavy chain, its two light chains, its behavior on gel filtration, its ATP-dependent affinity for actin, its characteristic ATPase activity, its molecular morphology as demonstrated by platinum shadowing, and its ability to form bipolar filaments. The molecular weight of the cytoplasmic myosin's light chains and peptide mapping and immunochemical analysis of its heavy chains demonstrate that this myosin, purified from Drosophila cell lines, is distinct from Drosophila muscle myosin. Two-dimensional thin layer maps of complete proteolytic digests of iodinated muscle and cytoplasmic myosin heavy chains demonstrate that, while the two myosins have some tryptic and alpha-chymotryptic peptides in common, most peptides migrate with unique mobility. One-dimensional peptide maps of SDS PAGE purified myosin heavy chain confirm these structural data. Polyclonal antiserum raised and reacted against Drosophila myosin isolated from cell lines cross-reacts only weakly with Drosophila muscle myosin isolated from the thoraces of adult Drosophila. Polyclonal antiserum raised against Drosophila muscle myosin behaves in a reciprocal fashion. Taken together our data suggest that the myosin purified from Drosophila cell lines is a bona fide cytoplasmic myosin and is very likely the product of a different myosin gene than the muscle myosin heavy chain gene that has been previously identified and characterized.
PMCID: PMC2114333  PMID: 3095337
20.  Rat myr 4 defines a novel subclass of myosin I: identification, distribution, localization, and mapping of calmodulin-binding sites with differential calcium sensitivity 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1994;126(2):375-389.
We report the identification and characterization of myr 4 (myosin from rat), the first mammalian myosin I that is not closely related to brush border myosin I. Myr 4 contains a myosin head (motor) domain, a regulatory domain with light chain binding sites and a tail domain. Sequence analysis of myosin I head (motor) domains suggested that myr 4 defines a novel subclass of myosin I's. This subclass is clearly different from the vertebrate brush border myosin I subclass (which includes myr 1) and the myosin I subclass(es) identified from Acanthamoeba castellanii and Dictyostelium discoideum. In accordance with this notion, a detailed sequence analysis of all myosin I tail domains revealed that the myr 4 tail is unique, except for a newly identified myosin I tail homology motif detected in all myosin I tail sequences. The Ca(2+)-binding protein calmodulin was demonstrated to be associated with myr 4. Calmodulin binding activity of myr 4 was mapped by gel overlay assays to the two consecutive light chain binding motifs (IQ motifs) present in the regulatory domain. These two binding sites differed in their Ca2+ requirements for optimal calmodulin binding. The NH2-terminal IQ motif bound calmodulin in the absence of free Ca2+, whereas the COOH-terminal IQ motif bound calmodulin in the presence of free Ca2+. A further Ca(2+)-dependent calmodulin binding site was mapped to amino acids 776-874 in the myr 4 tail domain. These results demonstrate a differential Ca2+ sensitivity for calmodulin binding by IQ motifs, and they suggest that myr 4 activity might be regulated by Ca2+/calmodulin. Myr 4 was demonstrated to be expressed in many cell lines and rat tissues with the highest level of expression in adult brain tissue. Its expression was developmentally regulated during rat brain ontogeny, rising 2-3 wk postnatally, and being maximal in adult brain. Immunofluorescence localization demonstrated that myr 4 is expressed in subpopulations of neurons. In these neurons, prominent punctate staining was detected in cell bodies and apical dendrites. A punctate staining that did not obviously colocalize with the bulk of F- actin was also observed in C6 rat glioma cells. The observed punctate staining for myr 4 is reminiscent of a membranous localization.
PMCID: PMC2200021  PMID: 8034741
21.  Distinct Roles of Rock (Rho-Kinase) and Mlck in Spatial Regulation of Mlc Phosphorylation for Assembly of Stress Fibers and Focal Adhesions in 3t3 Fibroblasts 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2000;150(4):797-806.
ROCK (Rho-kinase), an effector molecule of RhoA, phosphorylates the myosin binding subunit (MBS) of myosin phosphatase and inhibits the phosphatase activity. This inhibition increases phosphorylation of myosin light chain (MLC) of myosin II, which is suggested to induce RhoA-mediated assembly of stress fibers and focal adhesions. ROCK is also known to directly phosphorylate MLC in vitro; however, the physiological significance of this MLC kinase activity is unknown. It is also not clear whether MLC phosphorylation alone is sufficient for the assembly of stress fibers and focal adhesions.
We have developed two reagents with opposing effects on myosin phosphatase. One is an antibody against MBS that is able to inhibit myosin phosphatase activity. The other is a truncation mutant of MBS that constitutively activates myosin phosphatase. Through microinjection of these two reagents followed by immunofluorescence with a specific antibody against phosphorylated MLC, we have found that MLC phosphorylation is both necessary and sufficient for the assembly of stress fibers and focal adhesions in 3T3 fibroblasts. The assembly of stress fibers in the center of cells requires ROCK activity in addition to the inhibition of myosin phosphatase, suggesting that ROCK not only inhibits myosin phosphatase but also phosphorylates MLC directly in the center of cells. At the cell periphery, on the other hand, MLCK but not ROCK appears to be the kinase responsible for phosphorylating MLC. These results suggest that ROCK and MLCK play distinct roles in spatial regulation of MLC phosphorylation.
PMCID: PMC2175273  PMID: 10953004
myosin phosphatase; myosin phosphorylation; stress fibers; focal adhesions; RhoA
22.  Phosphorylation of Myosin-Binding Subunit (Mbs) of Myosin Phosphatase by Rho-Kinase in Vivo 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1999;147(5):1023-1038.
Rho-associated kinase (Rho-kinase), which is activated by the small GTPase Rho, phosphorylates myosin-binding subunit (MBS) of myosin phosphatase and thereby inactivates the phosphatase activity in vitro. Rho-kinase is thought to regulate the phosphorylation state of the substrates including myosin light chain (MLC), ERM (ezrin/radixin/moesin) family proteins and adducin by their direct phosphorylation and by the inactivation of myosin phosphatase. Here we identified the sites of phosphorylation of MBS by Rho-kinase as Thr-697, Ser-854 and several residues, and prepared antibody that specifically recognized MBS phosphorylated at Ser-854. We found by use of this antibody that the stimulation of MDCK epithelial cells with tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA) or hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) induced the phosphorylation of MBS at Ser-854 under the conditions in which membrane ruffling and cell migration were induced. Pretreatment of the cells with Botulinum C3 ADP-ribosyltransferase (C3), which is thought to interfere with Rho functions, or Rho-kinase inhibitors inhibited the TPA- or HGF-induced MBS phosphorylation. The TPA stimulation enhanced the immunoreactivity of phosphorylated MBS in the cytoplasm and membrane ruffling area of MDCK cells. In migrating MDCK cells, phosphorylated MBS as well as phosphorylated MLC at Ser-19 were localized in the leading edge and posterior region. Phosphorylated MBS was localized on actin stress fibers in REF52 fibroblasts. The microinjection of C3 or dominant negative Rho-kinase disrupted stress fibers and weakened the accumulation of phosphorylated MBS in REF52 cells. During cytokinesis, phosphorylated MBS, MLC and ERM family proteins accumulated at the cleavage furrow, and the phosphorylation level of MBS at Ser-854 was increased. Taken together, these results indicate that MBS is phosphorylated by Rho-kinase downstream of Rho in vivo, and suggest that myosin phosphatase and Rho-kinase spatiotemporally regulate the phosphorylation state of Rho-kinase substrates including MLC and ERM family proteins in vivo in a cooperative manner.
PMCID: PMC2169354  PMID: 10579722
myosin-binding subunit of myosin phosphatase; Rho-associated kinase; Rho; phosphorylation; cytokinesis
23.  Monoclonal antibodies demonstrate limited structural homology between myosin isozymes from Acanthamoeba 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1984;99(3):1002-1014.
We used a library of 31 monoclonal and six polyclonal antibodies to compare the structures of the two classes of cytoplasmic myosin isozymes isolated from Acanthamoeba: myosin-I, a 150,000-mol-wt, globular molecule; and myosin-II, a 400,000-mol-wt molecule with two heads and a 90-nm tail. This analysis confirms that myosin-I and -II are unique gene products and provides the first evidence that these isozymes have at least one structurally homologous region functionally important for myosin's role in contractility. Characterization of the 23 myosin-II monoclonal antibody binding sites by antibody staining of one-dimensional peptide maps and solid phase, competitive binding assays demonstrate that they bind to at least 15 unique sites on the myosin-II heavy chain. The antibodies can be grouped into six families, whose members bind close to one another. None of the monoclonal antibodies bind to myosin-II light chains and polyclonal antibodies against myosin-II light or heavy chain bind only to myosin-II light or heavy chains, respectively: no antibody binds both heavy and light chains. Six of eight monoclonal antibodies and one of two polyclonal sera that react with the myosin-I heavy chain also bind to determinants on the myosin-II heavy chain. The cross-reactive monoclonal antibodies bind to the region of myosin-II recognized by the largest family of myosin-II monoclonal antibodies. In the two papers that immediately follow, we show that this family of monoclonal antibodies to myosin-II binds to the myosin-II tail near the junction with the heads and inhibits both the actin-activated ATPase of myosin-II and contraction of gelled cytoplasmic extracts of Acanthamoeba cytoplasm. Further, this structurally homologous region may play a key role in energy transduction by cytoplasmic myosins.
PMCID: PMC2113410  PMID: 6206073
24.  Par-1 Controls Myosin-II Activity Through Myosin Phosphatase to Regulate Border Cell Migration 
Current Biology  2012;22(5):363-372.
Localized actomyosin contraction couples with actin polymerization and cell-matrix adhesion to regulate cell protrusions and retract trailing edges of migrating cells. While many cells migrate in collective groups during tissue morphogenesis, mechanisms that coordinate actomyosin dynamics in collective cell migration are poorly understood. Migration of Drosophila border cells, a genetically tractable model for collective cell migration, requires non-muscle myosin-II (Myo-II). How Myo-II specifically controls border cell migration and how Myo-II is itself regulated is largely unknown.
We show that Myo-II regulates two essential features of border cell migration: 1) initial detachment of the border cell cluster from the follicular epithelium and 2) the dynamics of cellular protrusions. We further demonstrate that the cell polarity protein Par-1 (MARK), a serine-threonine kinase, regulates the localization and activation of Myo-II in border cells. Par-1 binds to myosin phosphatase and phosphorylates it at a known inactivating site. Par-1 thus promotes phosphorylated Myosin Regulatory Light Chain (MRLC), thereby increasing Myo-II activity. Furthermore, Par-1 localizes to and increases active Myo-II at the cluster rear to promote detachment; in the absence of Par-1, spatially distinct active Myo-II is lost.
We identify a critical new role for Par-1 kinase: spatiotemporal regulation of Myo-II activity within the border cell cluster through localized inhibition of myosin phosphatase. Polarity proteins such as Par-1, which intrinsically localize, can thus directly modulate the actomyosin dynamics required for border cell detachment and migration. Such a link between polarity proteins and cytoskeletal dynamics may also occur in other collective cell migrations.
PMCID: PMC3298626  PMID: 22326025
25.  Contractile elements and myosin light chain phosphorylation in myometrial tissue from nonpregnant and pregnant women. 
Smooth muscle contraction is initiated primarily by an increase in intracellular Ca2+, Ca(2+)-dependent activation of myosin light chain kinase, and phosphorylation of myosin light chain. In this investigation, we identified pregnancy-associated alterations in myosin light chain phosphorylation, force of contraction, and content of contractile proteins in human myometrium. Steady-state levels of myosin light chain phosphorylation and contractile stress were correlated positively in both tissues, but the myometrial strips from pregnant women developed more stress at any given level of myosin light chain phosphorylation. During spontaneous contractions and during conditions that favor maximal generation of stress, the rate and extent of myosin light chain phosphorylation were attenuated in myometrial strips from pregnant women. The content of myosin and actin per milligram of protein and per tissue cross-sectional area was similar between myometrium of nonpregnant and pregnant women. Although cell size was significantly increased in tissues obtained from pregnant women, the amounts of contractile proteins per cellular cross-sectional area were similar. In addition, myosin light chain kinase and phosphatase activities were similar in the two tissues. The content of caldesmon was significantly increased in myometrium of pregnant women, whereas that of calponin (a smooth muscle-specific protein associated with the thin filaments) was not different. We conclude that adaptations of human myometrium during pregnancy include (a) cellular mechanisms that preclude the development of high levels of myosin light chain phosphorylation during contraction and (b) an increase in the stress generating capacity for any given level of myosin light chain phosphorylation.
PMCID: PMC293522  PMID: 8392087

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