Characterization of microcystin-LR, a potent inhibitor of type 1 and type 2A protein phosphatases

J Biol Chem. 1990 Nov 15;265(32):19401-4.


The level of protein phosphorylation is dependent on the relative activities of both protein kinases and protein phosphatases. By comparison with protein kinases, however, there have been considerably fewer studies on the functions of serine/threonine protein phosphatases. This is partly due to a lack of specific protein phosphatase inhibitors that can be used as probes. In the present study we characterize the inhibitory effects of microcystin-LR, a hepatotoxic cyclic peptide associated with most strains of the blue-green algae Microcystis aeruginosa found in the Northern hemisphere, that proves to be a potent inhibitor of type 1 (IC50 = 1.7 nM) and type 2A (IC50 = 0.04 nM) protein phosphatases. Microcystin-LR inhibited the activity of both type 1 and type 2A phosphatases greater than 10-fold more potently than okadaic acid under the same conditions. Type 2A protein phosphatases in dilute mammalian cell extracts were found to be completely inhibited by 0.5 nM microcystin-LR while type 1 protein phosphatases were only slightly affected at this concentration. Thus, microcystin-LR may prove to be a useful probe for the study and identification cellular processes which are mediated by protein phosphatases.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cyanobacteria / analysis
  • Ethers, Cyclic / pharmacology
  • Liver / enzymology
  • Magnesium / pharmacology
  • Marine Toxins
  • Microcystins
  • Muscles / enzymology
  • Okadaic Acid
  • Peptides, Cyclic / chemistry
  • Peptides, Cyclic / pharmacology*
  • Phosphoprotein Phosphatases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Rabbits


  • Ethers, Cyclic
  • Marine Toxins
  • Microcystins
  • Peptides, Cyclic
  • Okadaic Acid
  • Phosphoprotein Phosphatases
  • cyanoginosin LR
  • Magnesium