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  • Phosphorylation of the Bruchpilot N-terminus in Drosophila unlocks axonal transport of active zone building blocks.

Phosphorylation of the Bruchpilot N-terminus in Drosophila unlocks axonal transport of active zone building blocks.

Journal of cell science (2019-02-13)
Jan H Driller, Janine Lützkendorf, Harald Depner, Matthias Siebert, Benno Kuropka, Christoph Weise, Chengji Piao, Astrid G Petzoldt, Martin Lehmann, Ulrich Stelzl, René Zahedi, Albert Sickmann, Christian Freund, Stephan J Sigrist, Markus C Wahl
ABSTRACT

Protein scaffolds at presynaptic active zone membranes control information transfer at synapses. For scaffold biogenesis and maintenance, scaffold components must be safely transported along axons. A spectrum of kinases has been suggested to control transport of scaffold components, but direct kinase-substrate relationships and operational principles steering phosphorylation-dependent active zone protein transport are presently unknown. Here, we show that extensive phosphorylation of a 150-residue unstructured region at the N-terminus of the highly elongated Bruchpilot (BRP) active zone protein is crucial for ordered active zone precursor transport in Drosophila Point mutations that block SRPK79D kinase-mediated phosphorylation of the BRP N-terminus interfered with axonal transport, leading to BRP-positive axonal aggregates that also contain additional active zone scaffold proteins. Axonal aggregates formed only in the presence of non-phosphorylatable BRP isoforms containing the SRPK79D-targeted N-terminal stretch. We assume that specific active zone proteins are pre-assembled in transport packages and are thus co-transported as functional scaffold building blocks. Our results suggest that transient post-translational modification of a discrete unstructured domain of the master scaffold component BRP blocks oligomerization of these building blocks during their long-range transport.