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Identification of a new mechanism for targeting myosin II heavy chain phosphorylation by Dictyostelium myosin heavy chain kinase B

Julie Underwood, Jonathan Greene and Paul A Steimle*

Author Affiliations

Department of Biology, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, North Carolina, USA

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BMC Research Notes 2010, 3:56  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-3-56

Published: 3 March 2010



Heavy chain phosphorylation plays a central role in regulating myosin II bipolar filament assembly in Dictyostelium, as well as in higher eukaryotic nonmuscle cells. Our previous work has demonstrated that the WD-repeat domain of Dictyostelium myosin II heavy chain kinase B (MHCK-B), unlike its counterpart in MHCK-A, is not absolutely required for targeting of the kinase to phosphorylate MHC. Thus, we tested the hypothesis that an asparagine-rich and structurally disordered region that is unique to MHCK-B can by itself function in substrate targeting.


Biochemical assays comparing the activities of full-length MHCK-B, a truncation lacking only the WD-repeat domain (B-Δ-WD), and a truncation lacking both the N-rich region and the WD-repeat domain (B-Δ-N-WD) revealed that the N-rich region targets MHCK-B to phosphorylate MHC in a manner that leads to bipolar filament disassembly. This targeting is physiologically relevant since cellular over-expression of the B-Δ-WD truncation, but not the B-Δ-N-WD truncation, leads to dramatically reduced levels of myosin II filament assembly and associated defects in cytokinesis and multicellular development.


The results presented here demonstrate that an intrinsically unstructured, and asparagine-rich, region of a MHCK-B can mediate specific targeting of the kinase to phosphorylate myosin II heavy chain. This targeting involves a direct binding interaction with myosin II filaments. In terms of regulating myosin bipolar filament assembly, our results suggest that factors affecting the activity of this unique region of MHCK-B could allow for regulation of MHCK-B in a manner that is distinct from the other MHCKs in Dictyostelium.