Myosin Va’s adaptor protein melanophilin enforces track selection on the microtubule and actin networks in vitro [Biochemistry]
Pigment organelles, or melanosomes, are transported by kinesin, dynein, and myosin motors. As such, melanosome transport is an excellent model system to study the functional relationship between the microtubule- and actin-based transport systems. In mammalian melanocytes, it is well known that the Rab27a/melanophilin/myosin Va complex mediates actin-based transport in vivo. However, pathways that regulate the overall directionality of melanosomes on the actin/microtubule networks have not yet been delineated. Here, we investigated the role of PKA-dependent phosphorylation on the activity of the actin-based Rab27a/melanophilin/myosin Va transport complex in vitro. We found that melanophilin, specifically its C-terminal actin-binding domain (ABD), is a target of PKA. Notably, in vitro phosphorylation of the ABD closely recapitulated the previously described in vivo phosphorylation pattern. Unexpectedly, we found that phosphorylation of the ABD affected neither the interaction of the complex with actin nor its movement along actin tracks. Surprisingly, the phosphorylation state of melanophilin was instead important for reversible association with microtubules in vitro. Dephosphorylated melanophilin preferred binding to microtubules even in the presence of actin, whereas phosphorylated melanophilin associated with actin. Indeed, when actin and microtubules were present simultaneously, melanophilin’s phosphorylation state enforced track selection of the Rab27a/melanophilin/myosin Va transport complex. Collectively, our results unmasked the regulatory dominance of the melanophilin adaptor protein over its associated motor and offer an unexpected mechanism by which filaments of the cytoskeletal network compete for the moving organelles to accomplish directional transport on the cytoskeleton in vivo.
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