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Eur J Biochem. 1990 Dec 12;194(2):541-7.

Amino acid sequence of in vivo phosphorylation sites in the main intrinsic protein (MIP) of lens membranes.

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1
Department of Genetics and Cell Biology, University of Minnesota, St. Paul 55108.

Abstract

The main intrinsic membrane protein of the lens fiber cell, MIP, has been previously shown to be phosphorylated in preparations of lens fragments. Phosphorylation occurred on serine residues near the cytoplasmic C-terminus of the molecule. Since MIP is thought to function as a channel protein in lens plasma membranes, possibly as a cell-to-cell channel protein, phosphorylation could regulate the assembly or gating of these channels. We sought to identify the specific serines which are phosphorylated in order to help identify the kinases involved in regulating MIP function. To this end we purified a peptide fragment from native membranes that had not been subjected to any exogenous kinases or kinase activators. Any phosphorylation detected in these fragments must be due to cellular phosphorylation and thus is termed in vivo phosphorylation. Purified membranes were also phosphorylated with cAMP-dependent protein kinase to determine the mobility of phosphorylated and unphosphorylated MIP-derived peptides on different HPLC columns and to determine possible cAMP-dependent protein kinase phosphorylation sites. Lens membranes, which contain 50-60% of the protein as MIP, were digested with lysylendopeptidase C. Peptides were released from the C-terminal region of MIP and a major product of 21-22 kDa remained membrane-associated. Separation of the lysylendopeptidase-C-released peptides on C8 reversed-phase HPLC demonstrated that one of these fragments, corresponding to residues 239-259 in MIP, was partially phosphorylated. The phosphorylated and nonphosphorylated forms of this peptide were separated on QAE HPLC. In vivo phosphorylation sites were found at residues 243 and 245 through phosphoserine modification via ethanethiol and sequence analysis. Phosphorylation was never detected on serine 240. The phosphorylation level of serine 243 could be increased by incubation of membranes with cAMP-dependent protein kinase under standard assay conditions. Other kinases that phosphorylate serines found near acidic amino acids must be responsible for the in vivo phosphorylation demonstrated at serine 245.

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