Biology

Cell–substrate adhesion drives Scar/WAVE activation and phosphorylation by a Ste20-family kinase, which controls pseudopod lifetime


by Shashi Prakash Singh, Peter A. Thomason, Sergio Lilla, Matthias Schaks, Qing Tang, Bruce L. Goode, Laura M. Machesky, Klemens Rottner, Robert H. Insall

The Scar/WAVE complex is the principal catalyst of pseudopod and lamellipod formation. Here we show that Scar/WAVE’s proline-rich domain is polyphosphorylated after the complex is activated. Blocking Scar/WAVE activation stops phosphorylation in both Dictyostelium and mammalian cells, implying that phosphorylation modulates pseudopods after they have been formed, rather than controlling whether they are initiated. Unexpectedly, phosphorylation is not promoted by chemotactic signaling but is greatly stimulated by cell:substrate adhesion and diminished when cells deadhere. Phosphorylation-deficient or phosphomimetic Scar/WAVE mutants are both normally functional and rescue the phenotype of knockout cells, demonstrating that phosphorylation is dispensable for activation and actin regulation. However, pseudopods and patches of phosphorylation-deficient Scar/WAVE last substantially longer in mutants, altering the dynamics and size of pseudopods and lamellipods and thus changing migration speed. Scar/WAVE phosphorylation does not require ERK2 in Dictyostelium or mammalian cells. However, the MAPKKK homologue SepA contributes substantially—sepA mutants have less steady-state phosphorylation, which does not increase in response to adhesion. The mutants also behave similarly to cells expressing phosphorylation-deficient Scar, with longer-lived pseudopods and patches of Scar recruitment. We conclude that pseudopod engagement with substratum is more important than extracellular signals at regulating Scar/WAVE’s activity and that phosphorylation acts as a pseudopod timer by promoting Scar/WAVE turnover.

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