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Homotypic and heterotypic interaction of the neurofibromatosis 2 tumor suppressor protein merlin and the ERM protein ezrin.

Ezrin, radixin and moesin (ERM) are homologous proteins, which are linkers between plasma membrane components and the actin-containing cytoskeleton. The ERM protein family members associate with each other in a homotypic and heterotypic manner. The neurofibromatosis 2 (NF2) tumor suppressor protein merlin (schwannomin) is structurally related to ERM members. Merlin is involved in tumorigenesis of NF2-associated and sporadic schwannomas and meningiomas, but the tumor suppressor mechanism is poorly understood. We have studied the ability of merlin to self- associate and bind ezrin. Ezrin was coimmunoprecipitated with merlin from lysates of human U251 glioma cells and from COS-1 cells transfected with cDNA encoding for merlin isoform I. The interaction was further studied and the association domains were mapped with the yeast two-hybrid system and with blot overlay and affinity precipitation experiments. The heterotypic binding of merlin and ezrin and the homotypic association of merlin involves interaction between the amino- and carboxy-termini. The amino-terminal association domain of merlin involves residues 1-339 and has similar features with the amino-terminal association domain of ezrin. The carboxy-terminal association domain cannot be mapped as precisely as in ezrin, but it requires residues 585-595 and a more amino-terminal segment. Unlike ezrin, merlin does not require activation for self-association but native merlin molecules can interact with each other. Heterodimerization between merlin and ezrin, however, occurs only following conformational alterations in both proteins. These results biochemically connect merlin to the cortical cytoskeleton and indicate differential regulation of merlin from ERM proteins.[1]

References

  1. Homotypic and heterotypic interaction of the neurofibromatosis 2 tumor suppressor protein merlin and the ERM protein ezrin. Grönholm, M., Sainio, M., Zhao, F., Heiska, L., Vaheri, A., Carpén, O. J. Cell. Sci. (1999) [Pubmed]
 
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