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J Biol Chem. 1998 May 8;273(19):11728-36.

Phosphorylation of vimentin by Rho-associated kinase at a unique amino-terminal site that is specifically phosphorylated during cytokinesis.

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Laboratory of Biochemistry, Aichi Cancer Center Research Institute, Chikusa-ku, Aichi 464, Japan.


We found that vimentin, the most widely expressed intermediate filament protein, served as an excellent substrate for Rho-associated kinase (Rho-kinase) and that vimentin phosphorylated by Rho-kinase lost its ability to form filaments in vitro. Two amino-terminal sites on vimentin, Ser38 and Ser71, were identified as the major phosphorylation sites for Rho-kinase, and Ser71 was the most favored and unique phosphorylation site for Rho-kinase in vitro. To analyze the vimentin phosphorylation by Rho-kinase in vivo, we prepared an antibody GK71 that specifically recognizes the phosphorylation of vimentin-Ser71. Ectopic expression of constitutively active Rho-kinase in COS-7 cells induced phosphorylation of vimentin at Ser71, followed by the reorganization of vimentin filament networks. During the cell cycle, the phosphorylation of vimentin-Ser71 occurred only at the cleavage furrow in late mitotic cells but not in interphase or early mitotic cells. This cleavage furrow-specific phosphorylation of vimentin-Ser71 was observed in the various types of cells we examined. All these accumulating observations increase the possibility that Rho-kinase may have a definite role in governing regulatory processes in assembly-disassembly and turnover of vimentin filaments at the cleavage furrow during cytokinesis.

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