Specific [32P]ADP-ribosylation by Clostridium botulinum exoenzyme C3 was used to study the involvement of phosphorylation in the regulation of the low-molecular-mass GTP-binding protein Rho. Dephosphorylation of CHO cell extracts by alkaline phosphatase treatment resulted in a 80-90% reduction in the C3-catalysed [32P]ADP-ribosylation of Rho proteins in both cytosolic and membrane fractions. Similar results were obtained after dephosphorylation with protein phosphatase type-1 from bovine retina, whereas type-2B and type-2C phosphatases had no effect on the level of subsequent [32P]ADP-ribosylation of Rho by C3. Incubation of CHO cell lysate under phosphorylation conditions increased the subsequent C3-mediated [32P]ADP-ribosylation of Rho proteins. The protein kinase inhibitors H7 and H9 had no effect on [32P]ADP-ribosylation at concentrations which are specific for inhibition of protein kinase A or C. Recombinant glutathione S-transferase-RhoA fusion protein (GST-RhoA) was phosphorylated by protein kinase A; however, the phosphorylation had no stimulatory effect on the ADP-ribosylation of GST-RhoA by C3. An approx. 48 kDa phosphoprotein was identified which bound specifically to recombinant GST-RhoA fusion protein. By gel-permeation chromatography, Rho-containing complexes of approx. 50 kDa and 130-170 kDa were detected. The ADP-ribosylation of Rho in the 130-170 kDa complex was reduced by alkaline phosphatase pretreatment. The data suggest that Rho activity is influenced by phosphorylation of Rho-associated regulatory factors. Phosphorylation/dephosphorylation of these Rho-regulating factors appears to alter the ability of Rho to serve as a substrate for C3-induced [32P]ADP-ribosylation.

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