Phosphorylation of the Bruchpilot N-terminus in Drosophila unlocks axonal transport of active zone building blocks.
Driller, Jan H., Lützkendorf, Janine, Depner, Herald, Siebert, Matthias, Kuropka, Benno, Weise, Christoph, Piao, Chengji, Petzoldt, Astrig G., Lehmann, Martin, Stelzl, Ulrich, Zahedi, René, Sickmann, Albert, Freund, Christian, Sigrist, Stephan J and – 2019
Protein scaffolds at presynaptic active zone membranes control information transfer at synapses. For scaffold biogenesis and maintenance, scaffold components must be safely transported along axons. A spectrum of kinases has been suggested to control transport of scaffold components, but direct kinase-substrate relationships and operational principles steering phosphorylation-dependent active zone protein transport are presently unknown. Here, we show that extensive phosphorylation of a 150-residue unstructured region at the N-terminus of the highly elongated Bruchpilot (BRP) active zone protein is crucial for ordered active zone precursor transport in Drosophila Point mutations that block SRPK79D kinase-mediated phosphorylation of the BRP N-terminus interfered with axonal transport, leading to BRP-positive axonal aggregates that also contain additional active zone scaffold proteins. Axonal aggregates formed only in the presence of non-phosphorylatable BRP isoforms containing the SRPK79D-targeted N-terminal stretch. We assume that specific active zone proteins are pre-assembled in transport packages and are thus co-transported as functional scaffold building blocks. Our results suggest that transient post-translational modification of a discrete unstructured domain of the master scaffold component BRP blocks oligomerization of these building blocks during their long-range transport.