The conformation change and tumor suppressor role of Merlin are both independent of Serine 518 phosphorylation

Wancai Xing, Meng Li, Fayou Zhang, Xing Ma, Jiafu Long, Hao Zhou
Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 2017 November 4, 493 (1): 46-51
Merlin functions as a tumor suppressor and suppresses malignant activity of cancer cells through multiple mechanisms. However, whether Serine 518 phosphorylation regulates the conformation of Merlin as well as the open-closed conformational changes affect Merlin's tumor inhibitory activity remain controversial. In this study, we used different mutants to mimic related conformational states of Merlin and investigated its physiological functions. Our results showed that the phosphorylation at Serine 518 has no influence on Merlin's conformation, subcellular localization, or cell proliferation inhibitory activity. As a fully closed conformational state, the A585W mutant loses the ability to recruit Lats2 to the cell membrane, but it does not affect its subcellular distribution or cell proliferation inhibitory activity. As a fully open conformational state, mimicking the conformation of Merlin isoform II, the ΔEL mutant has the same physiological function as the wild type Merlin isoform I. Collectively, we provide for the first time in vivo evidence that the function of Merlin, as a tumor suppressor is independent of its conformational change.

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