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Regulation of Ack1 localization and activity by the amino-terminal SAM domain

Victoria Prieto-Echagüe1, Azad Gucwa2, Deborah A Brown2 and W Todd Miller1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Basic Science Tower T5, School of Medicine, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794-8661, USA

2 Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Nicolls Rd., Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794-5215, USA

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BMC Biochemistry 2010, 11:42  doi:10.1186/1471-2091-11-42

Published: 27 October 2010



The mechanisms that regulate the activity of the nonreceptor tyrosine kinase Ack1 (activated Cdc42-associated kinase) are poorly understood. The amino-terminal region of Ack1 is predicted to contain a sterile alpha motif (SAM) domain. SAM domains share a common fold and mediate protein-protein interactions in a wide variety of proteins. Here, we addressed the importance of the Ack1 SAM domain in kinase activity.


We used immunofluorescence and Western blotting to show that Ack1 deletion mutants lacking the N-terminus displayed significantly reduced autophosphorylation in cells. A minimal construct comprising the N-terminus and kinase domain (NKD) was autophosphorylated, while the kinase domain alone (KD) was not. When expressed in mammalian cells, NKD localized to the plasma membrane, while KD showed a more diffuse cytosolic localization. Co-immunoprecipitation experiments showed a stronger interaction between full length Ack1 and NKD than between full length Ack1 and KD, indicating that the N-terminus was important for Ack1 dimerization. Increasing the local concentration of purified Ack1 kinase domain at the surface of lipid vesicles stimulated autophosphorylation and catalytic activity, consistent with a requirement for dimerization and trans-phosphorylation for activity.


Collectively, the data suggest that the N-terminus of Ack1 promotes membrane localization and dimerization to allow for autophosphorylation.