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Concept: Moesin


Neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) is a tumor-forming disease of the nervous system caused by deletion or by loss-of-function mutations in NF2, encoding the tumor suppressing protein neurofibromin 2 (also known as schwannomin or merlin). Neurofibromin 2 is a member of the ezrin, radixin, moesin (ERM) family of proteins regulating the cytoskeleton and cell signaling. The correlation of the tumor-suppressive function and conformation (open or closed) of neurofibromin 2 has been subject to much speculation, often based on extrapolation from other ERM proteins, and controversy. Here we show that lipid binding results in the open conformation of neurofibromin 2 and that lipid binding is necessary for inhibiting cell proliferation. Collectively, our results provide a mechanism in which the open conformation is unambiguously correlated with lipid binding and localization to the membrane, which are critical for the tumor-suppressive function of neurofibromin 2, thus finally reconciling the long-standing conformation and function debate.

Concepts: Signal transduction, Moesin, Protein, ERM protein family, DNA, Neurofibromatosis type II, Merlin, VIL2


This review deals with recent advances in studies on P-glycoprotein (P-gp) and its expression regulators, focusing especially on our own research. Firstly, we describe findings demonstrating that the distribution of P-gp along the small intestine is heterogeneous, which explains why orally administered P-gp substrate drugs often show bimodal changes of plasma concentration. Secondly, we discuss the post-translational regulation of P-gp localization and function by the scaffold proteins ezrin, radixin and moesin (ERM proteins), together with recent reports indicating that tissue-specific differences in regulation by ERM proteins in normal tissues might be retained in corresponding cancerous tissues. Thirdly, we review evidence that P-gp activity is enhanced in the process of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), which is associated with cancer progression, without any increase in expression of P-gp mRNA. Finally, we describe two examples in which P-gp critically influences the brain distribution of drugs, i.e., oseltamivir, where low levels of P-gp associated with early development allow oseltamivir to enter the brain, potentially resulting in neuropsychiatric side effects in children, and cilnidipine, where impairment of P-gp function in ischemia allows cilnidipine to enter the ischemic brain, where it exerts a neuroprotective action.

Concepts: Stroke, Cancer, DNA, Gene expression, Ischemia, Traumatic brain injury, Moesin, ERM protein family


Moesin is a member of the ERM (ezrin, radixin and moesin) proteins that participate in cell migration and tumor invasion through transductional signals sent to actin filaments by glycoproteins, such as podoplanin.

Concepts: Cell biology, DNA, Cell, Gene, Cancer, Protein, Moesin, ERM protein family


Unconventional myosin 7a (Myo7a), myosin 7b (Myo7b), and myosin 15a (Myo15a) all contain MyTH4-FERM domains (myosin tail homology 4-band 4.1, ezrin, radixin, moesin; MF) in their cargo binding tails and are essential for the growth and function of microvilli and stereocilia. Numerous mutations have been identified in the MyTH4-FERM tandems of these myosins in patients suffering visual and hearing impairment. Although a number of MF domain binding partners have been identified, the molecular basis of interactions with the C-terminal MF domain (CMF) of these myosins remains poorly understood. Here we report the high-resolution crystal structure of Myo7b CMF in complex with the extended PDZ3 domain of USH1C (a.k.a., Harmonin), revealing a previously uncharacterized interaction mode both for MyTH4-FERM tandems and for PDZ domains. We predicted, based on the structure of the Myo7b CMF/USH1C PDZ3 complex, and verified that Myo7a CMF also binds to USH1C PDZ3 using a similar mode. The structure of the Myo7b CMF/USH1C PDZ complex provides mechanistic explanations for >20 deafness-causing mutations in Myo7a CMF. Taken together, these findings suggest that binding to PDZ domains, such as those from USH1C, PDZD7, and Whirlin, is a common property of CMFs of Myo7a, Myo7b, and Myo15a.

Concepts: Evolution, MYO7A, Moesin, Function, Cytoskeleton, Protein, PDZ domain, Myosin


It was reported that stimulation of TAS2R38 by a bitter substance, phenylthiocarbamide (PTC), increased P-gp mRNA level and transport activity via release of the gastrointestinal hormone cholecystokinin-8 (CCK-8) at 9 hours. Therefore, we hypothesized that CCK-8 and PTC might also regulate P-gp activity more rapidly via a different mechanism. As a result, we found that the pretreatment of Caco-2 cells with 10 mM PTC significantly decreased the intracellular accumulation of P-gp substrate Rho123 compared with the control after 90 min incubation. Moreover, CCK-8 treatments significantly reduced the accumulation of Rho123 within 30 min, compared with the control. On the other hand, when Caco-2 cells were pretreated with PTC, the efflux ratio of Rho123 was significantly increased compared to control. The efflux ratio of Rho123 in CCK-8 treatment cells was also significantly increased compared to control. Furthermore, CCK-8 increased the phosphorylation of the scaffold proteins ezrin, radixin and moesin (ERM), which regulate translocation of P-gp to the plasma membrane. Therefore, our results indicate that PTC induced release of CCK-8, which in turn induced the phosphorylation of ERM proteins, leading to upregulation of P-gp transport activity via increased membrane localization of P-gp.

Concepts: Phenylthiocarbamide, Enzyme, Cell biology, Signal transduction, Moesin, Protein, ERM protein family, Cell membrane


The goal of this study was to investigate the role of MLC phosphatase (MLCP) in a LPS model of acute lung injury (ALI). We demonstrate that ectopic expression of a constitutively-active (C/A) MLCP regulatory subunit (MYPT1) attenuates the ability of LPS to increase endothelial (EC) permeability. Down-regulation of MYPT1 exacerbates LPS-induced expression of ICAM1 suggesting an anti-inflammatory role of MLCP. To determine whether MLCP contributes to LPS-induced ALI in vivo, we utilized a nanoparticle DNA delivery method to specifically target lung EC. Expression of a C/A MYPT1 reduced LPS-induced lung inflammation and vascular permeability. Further, increased expression of the CS1β (MLCP catalytic subunit) also reduced LPS-induced lung inflammation, whereas the inactive CS1β mutant increased vascular leak. We next examined the role of the cytoskeletal targets of MLCP, the ERM proteins (Ezrin/Radixin/Moesin), in mediating barrier dysfunction. LPS-induced increase in EC permeability was accompanied by PKC-mediated increase in ERM phosphorylation, which was more prominent in CS1β-depleted cells. Depletion of Moesin and Ezrin, but not Radixin attenuated LPS-induced increases in permeability. Further, delivery of a Moesin phospho-null mutant into murine lung endothelium attenuated LPS-induced lung inflammation and vascular leak suggesting that MLCP opposes LPS-induced ALI by mediating the dephosphorylation of Moesin and Ezrin.

Concepts: Atherosclerosis, In vivo, In vitro, VIL2, Moesin, Enzyme, Inflammation, ERM protein family


Biological features of canine osteosarcomas (OS) differ markedly from those found in feline and resemble more human osteosarcomas, in particular for their high rate of metastasis and poor prognosis. Ezrin, radixin and moesin are members of the ERM protein family and link the actin cytoskeleton with the cell membrane. Ezrin and moesin have been shown to be of prognostic significance in tumor progression due to their role in the metastatic process. The objective of this study was to analyze ezrin and moesin protein expression in a series of dog (n = 16) and cat (n = 8) osteosarcoma samples using immunohistochemistry and western blot techniques. We found that cat OS have a higher moesin expression compared to dog OS, however, the active phosphorylated forms of moesin and ezrin Tyr353 were more abundant in the dog samples. A statistically significant difference was found for the low and high immunohistochemical scores of ezrin and pan-phospho-ERM proteins between cat and dog. Although phospho-ezrin Thr567 was higher in feline OS, the membranous localization in dog OS samples indicates the presence of the biologically active form. Therefore, the observed differences in phosphorylated forms of ezrin and moesin status should be further studied to demonstrate if they are relevant for different biological behavior between dog and cat OS.

Concepts: Protein, Cell membrane, Moesin, ERM protein family, Cytoskeleton, Gene, Molecular biology, Cancer


The chloride intracellular channel (CLIC) 5A is expressed at very high levels in renal glomeruli, in both endothelial cells (EC) and podocytes. CLIC5A stimulates Rac1- and PI[4,5]P2-dependent ERM (ezrin, radixin, moesin) activation. ERM proteins, in turn, function in lumen formation and in the development of actin-based cellular projections. In mice lacking CLIC5A, ERM phosphorylation is profoundly reduced in podocytes, but preserved in glomerular EC. Since glomerular EC also express CLIC4, we reasoned if CLIC4 activates ERM proteins like CLIC5A, then CLIC4 could compensate for the CLIC5A loss in glomerular EC. In glomeruli of CLIC5 deficient mice, CLIC4 expression was up-regulated and co-localized with moesin and ezrin in glomerular EC, but not in podocytes. In cultured glomerular EC, CLIC4 silencing reduced ERM phosphorylation and cytoskeletal association, and expression of exogenous CLIC4 or CLIC5A rescued ERM de-phosphorylation due to CLIC4 silencing. In mice lacking either CLIC4 or CLIC5, ERM phosphorylation was retained in glomerular EC, but in mice lacking both CLIC4 and CLIC5, glomerular EC ERM phosphorylation was profoundly reduced. Although glomerular EC fenestrae developed normally in dual CLIC4/CLIC5 deficient mice, the density of fenestrae declined substantially by 8 months of age, along with the deposition of subendothelial electron-lucent material. The dual CLIC4/CLIC5 deficient mice developed spontaneous proteinuria, glomerular cell proliferation and matrix deposition. Thus, CLIC4 stimulates ERM activation, and can compensate for CLIC5A in glomerular EC. The findings indicate that CLIC4/CLIC5A-mediated ERM activation is required for maintenance of the glomerular capillary architecture.

Concepts: Kidney, Podocyte, Moesin, Blood vessel, Endothelium, Bowman's capsule, ERM protein family, Glomerulus


The lymphocyte oriented kinase (LOK), also called serine threonine kinase 10 (STK10), is synthesized mainly in lymphocytes. It is involved in lymphocyte migration and polarization and can phosphorylate ezrin, radixin, and moesin (the ERM proteins). In a T-lymphocyte cell line and in purified human lymphocytes, we found LOK to be cleaved by caspases during apoptosis. The first cleavage occurs at aspartic residue 332, located between the kinase domain and the coiled-coil regulation domain. This cleavage generates an N-terminal fragment, p50 N-LOK, containing the kinase domain, and a C-terminal fragment, which is further cleaved during apoptosis. Although these cleavages preserve the entire kinase domain, p50 N-LOK displays no kinase activity. In apoptotic lymphocytes, caspase cleavages of LOK are concomitant with a decrease in ERM phosphorylation. When non-apoptotic lymphocytes from mice with homozygous and heterozygous LOK knockout were compared, the latter showed a higher level of ERM phosphorylation, but when apoptosis was induced, LOK-/- and LOK+/- lymphocytes showed the same low level, confirming in vivo that LOK-induced ERM phosphorylation is prevented during lymphocyte apoptosis. Our results demonstrate that cleavage of LOK during apoptosis abolishes its kinase activity, causing a decrease in ERM phosphorylation, crucial to the role of the ERM proteins in linking the plasma membrane to actin filaments.

Concepts: Phosphorylation, Moesin, Cell, Immune system, Apoptosis, Signal transduction, Protein, ERM protein family


Multidrug resistance (MDR) is often attributed to the over-expression of P-glycoprotein (P-gp), which prevents the accumulation of anticancer drugs within cells by virtue of its active drug efflux capacity. We have previously described the intercellular transfer of P-gp via extracellular vesicles (EVs) and proposed the involvement of a unique protein complex in regulating this process. In this paper, we investigate the role of these mediators in the regulation of P-gp functionality and hence the acquisition of MDR following cell to cell transfer. By sequentially silencing the FERM domain-binding proteins, Ezrin, Radixin and Moesin (ERM), as well as CD44, which we also report a selective packaging in breast cancer derived EVs, we have established a role for these proteins, in particular Radixin and CD44, in influencing the P-gp-mediated MDR in whole cells. We also report for the first time the role of ERM proteins in the vesicular transfer of functional P-gp. Specifically, we demonstrate that intercellular membrane insertion is dependent on Ezrin and Moesin, whilst P-gp functionality is governed by the integrity of all ERM proteins in the recipient cell. This study identifies these candidate proteins as potential new therapeutic targets in circumventing MDR clinically.

Concepts: Moesin, Cell membrane, Metastasis, DNA, Chemotherapy, ERM protein family, Breast cancer, Cancer