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The WAVE regulatory complex (WRC) is the main activator of the Arp2/3 complex, promoting lamellipodial protrusions in migrating cells. The WRC is basally inactive but can be activated by Rac1 and phospholipids, and through phosphorylation. However, the in vivo relevance of the phosphorylation of WAVE proteins remains largely unknown. Here, we identified casein kinase I alpha (CK1α) as a regulator of WAVE, thereby controlling cell shape and cell motility in Drosophila macrophages. CK1α binds and phosphorylates WAVE in vitro. Phosphorylation of WAVE by CK1α appears not to be required for activation but, rather, regulates its stability. Pharmacologic inhibition of CK1α promotes ubiquitin-dependent degradation of WAVE. Consistently, loss of Ck1α but not ck2 function phenocopies the depletion of WAVE. Phosphorylation-deficient mutations in the CK1α consensus sequences within the VCA domain of WAVE can neither rescue mutant lethality nor lamellipodium defects. By contrast, phosphomimetic mutations rescue all cellular and developmental defects. Finally, RNAi-mediated suppression of 26S proteasome or E3 ligase complexes substantially rescues lamellipodia defects in CK1α-depleted macrophages. Therefore, we conclude that basal phosphorylation of WAVE by CK1α protects it from premature ubiquitin-dependent degradation, thus promoting WAVE function in vivo. This article has an associated First Person interview with the first author of the paper. © 2021. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.


Alexander Hirschhäuser, Marianne van Cann, Sven Bogdan. CK1α protects WAVE from degradation to regulate cell shape and motility in the immune response. Journal of cell science. 2021 Dec 01;134(23)

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PMID: 34730182

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