Indexed on: 01 Jul '94Published on: 01 Jul '94Published in: Biophysical Journal
Several groups have observed that phosphorylation causes the MARCKS (Myristoylated Alanine-Rich C Kinase Substrate) protein to move off cell membranes and phospholipid vesicles. Our working hypothesis is that significant membrane binding of MARCKS requires both hydrophobic insertion of the N-terminal myristate into the bilayer and electrostatic association of the single cluster of basic residues in the protein with acidic lipids and that phosphorylation reverses this electrostatic association. Membrane binding measurements with myristoylated peptides and phospholipid vesicles show this hydrophobic moiety could, at best, barely attach proteins to plasma membranes. We report here membrane binding measurements with basic peptides that correspond to the phosphorylation domains of MARCKS and neuromodulin. Binding of these peptides increases sigmoidally with the percent acidic lipid in the phospholipid vesicle and can be described by a Gouy-Chapman/mass action theory that explains how electrostatics and reduction of dimensionality produce apparent cooperativity. The electrostatic affinity of the MARCKS peptide for membranes containing 10% acidic phospholipids (10(4) M-1 = chi/[P], where chi is the mole ratio of peptide bound to the outer monolayer of the vesicles and [P] is the concentration of peptide in the aqueous phase) is the same as the hydrophobic affinity of the myristate moiety for bilayer membranes. Phosphorylation decreases the affinity of the MARCKS peptide for membranes containing 15% acidic lipid about 1000-fold and produces a rapid (t1/2 < 30 s) dissociation of the peptide from phospholipid vesicles.