Phosphorylation of kinase-related protein (telokin) in tonic and phasic smooth muscles

Mikhail A. Krymsky, Dmitry S. Kudryashov, Vladimir P. Shirinsky, Thomas J. Lukas, D. Martin Watterson, Alexander V. Vorotnikov*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


KRP (telokin), an independently expressed C-terminal myosin-binding domain of smooth muscle myosin light chain kinase (MLCK), has been reported to have two related functions. First, KRP stabilizes myosin filaments (Shirinsky et al., 1993, J. Biol. Chem. 268, 16578-16583) in the presence of ATP. Secondly, KRP can modulate the level of myosin light chain phosphorylation. In this latter role, multiple mechanisms have been suggested. One hypothesis is that light chain phosphorylation is diminished by the direct competition of KRP and MLCK for myosin, resulting in a loss of contraction. Alternatively, KRP, through an unidentified mechanism, accelerates myosin light chain dephosphorylation in a manner possibly enhanced by KRP phosphorylation. Here, we demonstrate that KRP is a major phosphoprotein in smooth muscle, and use a comparative approach to investigate how its phosphorylation correlates with sustained contraction and forskolin-induced relaxation. Forskolin relaxation of precontracted artery strips caused little increase in KRP phosphorylation, while treatment with phorbol ester increased the level of KRP phosphorylation without a subsequent change in contractility. Although phorbol ester does not induce contraction of phasic tissues, the level of KRP phosphorylation is increased. Phosphopeptide maps of KRP from both tissues revealed multiple sites of phosphorylation within the N-terminal region of KRP. Phosphopeptide maps of KRP from gizzard were more complex than those for KRP from artery consistent with heterogeneity at the amino terminus and/or additional sites. We discovered through analysis of KRP phosphorylation in vitro that Ser12, Ser18 and Ser15 are phosphorylated by cAMP-dependent protein kinase, mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase and glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3), respectively. Phosphorylation by GSK3 was dependent upon prephosphorylation by MAP kinase. This appears to be the first report of conditional or hierarchical phosphorylation of KRP. Peptides consistent with such multiple phosphorylations were found on the in vivo phosphopeptide maps of avian KRP. Collectively, the available data indicate that there is a complex relationship between the in vivo phosphorylation states of KRP and its effects on relaxation in smooth muscle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)425-437
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Muscle Research and Cell Motility
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Cell Biology


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