Protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) holoenzymes target broad substrates by recognizing short motifs via regulatory subunits. PP2A methylesterase 1 (PME-1) is a cancer-promoting enzyme and undergoes methylesterase activation upon binding to the PP2A core enzyme. Here we showed that PME-1 readily demethylates different families of PP2A holoenzymes and blocks substrate recognition in vitro. The high-resolution cryo-EM structure of a PP2A-B56 holoenzyme-PME-1 complex reveals that PME-1 disordered regions, including a substrate-mimicking motif, tether to the B56 regulatory subunit at remote sites. They occupy the holoenzyme substrate-binding groove and allow large structural shifts in both holoenzyme and PME-1 to enable multi-partite contacts at structured cores to activate the methylesterase. B56-interface mutations selectively block PME-1 activity toward PP2A-B56 holoenzymes and affect the methylation of a fraction of total cellular PP2A. The B56-interface mutations allow us to uncover B56-specific PME-1 functions in p53 signaling. Our studies reveal multiple mechanisms of PME-1 in suppressing holoenzyme functions and versatile PME-1 activities derived from coupling substrate-mimicking motifs to dynamic structured cores.
Keywords: E. coli; biochemistry; chemical biology; molecular biophysics; structural biology.