Deciphering the histone code has illustrated that acetylation or methylation on the same residue can have analogous or opposing roles. However, little is known about the interplay between these post-translational modifications (PTMs) on the same nonhistone residues. We have recently discovered that N-terminal acetyltransferases (NATs) and N-terminal methyltransferases (NRMTs) can have overlapping substrates and identified myosin regulatory light chain 9 (MYL9) as the first confirmed protein to occur in either α-amino-methylated (Nα-methyl) or α-amino-acetylated (Nα-acetyl) states in vivo. Here we aim to determine if these PTMs function similarly or create different MYL9 proteoforms with distinct roles. We use enzymatic assays to directly verify MYL9 is a substrate of both NRMT1 and NatA and generate mutants of MYL9 that are exclusive for Nα-acetylation or Nα-methylation. We then employ eukaryotic cell models to probe the regulatory functions of these Nα-PTMs on MYL9. Our results show that, contrary to prevailing dogma, neither of these modifications regulate the stability of MYL9. Rather, exclusive Nα-acetylation promotes cytoplasmic roles of MYL9, while exclusive Nα-methylation promotes the nuclear role of MYL9 as a transcription factor. The increased cytoplasmic activity of Nα-acetylated MYL9 corresponds with increased phosphorylation at serine 19, a key MYL9 activating PTM. Increased nuclear activity of Nα-methylated MYL9 corresponds with increased DNA binding. Nα-methylation also results in a decrease of interactions between the N-terminus of MYL9 and a host of cytoskeletal proteins. These results confirm that Nα-acetylation and Nα-methylation differentially affect MYL9 function by creating distinct proteoforms with different internal PTM patterns and binding properties.

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