Background: Protein kinase D (PKD) enzymes regulate cofilin-driven actin reorganization and directed cell migration through both p21-activated kinase 4 (PAK4) and the phosphatase slingshot 1L (SSH1L). The relative contributions of different endogenous PKD isoforms to both signaling pathways have not been elucidated, sufficiently.
Methodology/principal findings: We here analyzed two cell lines (HeLa and MDA-MB-468) that express the subtypes protein kinase D2 (PKD2) and protein kinase D3 (PKD3). We show that under normal growth conditions both isoforms can form a complex, in which PKD3 is basally-active and PKD2 is inactive. Basal activity of PKD3 mediates PAK4 activity and downstream signaling, but does not significantly inhibit SSH1L. This signaling constellation was required for facilitating directed cell migration. Activation of PKD2 and further increase of PKD3 activity leads to additional phosphorylation and inhibition of endogenous SSH1L. Net effect is a dramatic increase in phospho-cofilin and a decrease in cell migration, since now both PAK4 and SSH1L are regulated by the active PKD2/PKD3 complex.
Conclusions/significance: Our data suggest that PKD complexes provide an interface for both cofilin regulatory pathways. Dependent on the activity of involved PKD enzymes signaling can be balanced to guarantee a functional cofilin activity cycle and increase cell migration, or imbalanced to decrease cell migration. Our data also provide an explanation of how PKD isoforms mediate different effects on directed cell migration.