Vasodilator-stimulated phosphoprotein (VASP) is an actin regulatory protein that functions in adhesion and migration. In epithelial cells, VASP participates in cell-cell adhesion. At the molecular level, VASP drives actin bundling and polymerization. VASP activity is primarily regulated by phosphorylation. Three physiologically relevant phosphorylation sites significantly reduce actin regulatory activity and are targeted by several kinases, most notable Abl and protein kinases A and G (PKA and PKG). AMP-dependent kinase (AMPK) is best characterized as a cellular sensor of ATP depletion, but also alters actin dynamics in epithelial cells and participates in cell polarity pathways downstream of LKB1. While little is known about how AMPK direct changes in actin dynamics, AMPK has been shown to phosphorylate VASP at one of these three well-characterized PKA/PKG phosphorylation sites. Here we show that phosphorylation of VASP by AMPK occurs at a novel site, serine 322, and that phosphorylation at this site alters actin filament binding. We also show that inhibition of AMPK activity results in the accumulation of VASP at cell-cell adhesions and a concomitant increase in cell-cell adhesion.
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