Mena [mammalian Ena (Enabled)]/VASP (vasodilator-stimulated phosphoprotein) proteins are the homologues of Drosophila Ena. In Drosophila, Ena is a substrate of the tyrosine kinase DAbl (Drosophila Abl). However, the link between Abl and the Mena/VASP family is not fully understood in mammals. We previously reported that Abi-1 (Abl interactor 1) promotes phosphorylation of Mena and BCAP (B-cell adaptor for phosphoinositide 3-kinase) by bridging the interaction between c-Abl and the substrate. In the present study we have identified VASP, another member of the Mena/VASP family, as an Abi-1-bridged substrate of Abl. VASP is phosphorylated by Abl when Abi-1 is co-expressed. We also found that VASP interacted with Abi-1 both in vitro and in vivo. VASP was tyrosine-phosphorylated in Bcr-Abl-positive leukaemic cells in an Abi-1-dependent manner. Co-expression of c-Abl and Abi-1 or the phosphomimetic Y39D mutation in VASP resulted in less accumulation of VASP at focal adhesions. VASP Y39D had a reduced affinity to the proline-rich region of zyxin. Interestingly, overexpression of both phosphomimetic and unphosphorylated forms of VASP, but not wild-type VASP, impaired adhesion of K562 cells to fibronectin. These results suggest that the phosphorylation and dephosphorylation cycle of VASP by the Abi-1-bridged mechanism regulates association of VASP with focal adhesions, which may regulate adhesion of Bcr-Abl-transformed leukaemic cells.

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