Protein kinase C phosphorylates nonmuscle myosin-II heavy chain from Drosophila but regulation of myosin function by this enzyme is not required for viability in flies.
Conventional myosins (myosin-IIs) generate forces for cell shape change and cell motility. Myosin heavy chain phosphorylation regulates myosin function in simple eukaryotes and may also be important in metazoans. To investigate this regulation in a complex eukaryote, we purified the Drosophila myosin-II tail expressed in Escherichia coli and showed that it was phosphorylated in vitro by protein kinase C(PKC) at serines 1936 and 1944, which are located in the nonhelical globular tail piece. These sites are close to a conserved serine that is phosphorylated in vertebrate, nonmuscle myosin-IIs. If the two serines are mutagenized to alanine or aspartic acid, phosphorylation no longer occurs. Using a 341 amino acid tail fragment, we show that there is no difference in the salt-dependent assembly of wild-type phosphorylated and mutagenized polypeptides. Thus, the nonmuscle myosin heavy chain in Drosophila, which is encoded by the zipper gene, appears to be similar to rabbit nonmuscle myosin-IIA. In vivo, we generated transgenic flies that expressed the various myosin heavy chain variants in a zipper null or near-null genetic background. Like their wild-type counterparts, such variants are able to completely rescue the lethal phenotype due to severe zipper mutations. These results suggest that while the myosin-II heavy chain can be phosphorylated by PKC, regulation by this enzyme is not required for viability in Drosophila. Conservation during 530-1000 million years of evolution suggests that regulation by heavy chain phosphorylation may contribute to nonmuscle myosin-II function in some real, but minor, way.
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