In Caenorhabditis elegans, twitchin is a giant polypeptide located in muscle A-bands. The protein kinase of twitchin is autoinhibited by 45 residues upstream (NL) and 60 residues downstream (CRD) of the kinase catalytic core. Molecular dynamics simulation on a twitchin fragment revealed that the NL is released by pulling force. However, it is unclear how the CRD is removed. To identify proteins that may remove the CRD, we performed a yeast two-hybrid screen using twitchin kinase as bait. One interactor is MAK-1, C. elegans orthologue of MAPKAP kinase 2. MAPKAP kinase 2 is phosphorylated and activated by p38 MAP kinase. We demonstrate that the CRD of twitchin is important for binding to MAK-1. mak-1 is expressed in nematode body wall muscle, and antibodies to MAK-1 localize between and around Z-disk analogues and to the edge of A-bands. Whereas unc-22 mutants are completely resistant, mak-1 mutants are partially resistant to nicotine. MAK-1 can phosphorylate twitchin NL-Kin-CRD in vitro. Genetic data suggest the involvement of two other mak-1 paralogues and two orthologues of p38 MAP kinase. These results suggest that MAK-1 is an activator of twitchin kinase and that the p38 MAP kinase pathway may be involved in the regulation of twitchin.
© 2015 Matsunaga et al. This article is distributed by The American Society for Cell Biology under license from the author(s). Two months after publication it is available to the public under an Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike 3.0 Unported Creative Commons License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0).