Role of the essential light chain in the activation of smooth muscle myosin by regulatory light chain phosphorylation

J Struct Biol. 2014 Mar;185(3):375-82. doi: 10.1016/j.jsb.2013.12.008. Epub 2013 Dec 19.


The activity of smooth and non-muscle myosin II is regulated by phosphorylation of the regulatory light chain (RLC) at serine 19. The dephosphorylated state of full-length monomeric myosin is characterized by an asymmetric intramolecular head-head interaction that completely inhibits the ATPase activity, accompanied by a hairpin fold of the tail, which prevents filament assembly. Phosphorylation of serine 19 disrupts these head-head interactions by an unknown mechanism. Computational modeling (Tama et al., 2005. J. Mol. Biol. 345, 837-854) suggested that formation of the inhibited state is characterized by both torsional and bending motions about the myosin heavy chain (HC) at a location between the RLC and the essential light chain (ELC). Therefore, altering relative motions between the ELC and the RLC at this locus might disrupt the inhibited state. Based on this hypothesis we have derived an atomic model for the phosphorylated state of the smooth muscle myosin light chain domain (LCD). This model predicts a set of specific interactions between the N-terminal residues of the RLC with both the myosin HC and the ELC. Site directed mutagenesis was used to show that interactions between the phosphorylated N-terminus of the RLC and helix-A of the ELC are required for phosphorylation to activate smooth muscle myosin.

Keywords: ATPase; Modeling; Motility; Phosphorylation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Computational Biology
  • Myosin Light Chains / chemistry*
  • Myosin Light Chains / metabolism*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Smooth Muscle Myosins / chemistry*
  • Smooth Muscle Myosins / metabolism*


  • Myosin Light Chains
  • Smooth Muscle Myosins