Phosphorylation of sucrose synthase at serine 170: Occurrence and possible role as a signal for proteolysis

Shane C. Hardin, Guo Qing Tang, Anke Scholz, Daniela Holtgraewe, Heike Winter, Steven C. Huber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sequence analysis identified serine 170 (S170) of the maize (Zea mays L.) SUS1 sucrose synthase (SUS) protein as a possible, second phosphorylation site. Maize leaves contained two calcium-dependent protein kinase activities and a calcium-independent kinase activity with characteristics of an sucrose non-fermenting 1 (SNF1)-related protein kinase. Phosphorylation of the novel S170 and the known serine 15 (S15) site by these protein kinases was determined in peptide substrates and detected in SUS1 protein substrates utilizing sequence- and phosphorylation-specific antibodies. We demonstrate phosphorylation of S170 in vitro and in vivo. The calcium-dependent protein kinases phosphorylated both S170 and S15, whereas SNF1-related protein kinase activity was restricted to S15. Calcium-dependent protein-kinase-mediated S170 and S15 phosphorylation kinetics were determined in wild-type and mutant SUS1 substrates. These analyses revealed that kinase specificity for S170 was threefold lower than that for S15, and that phosphorylation of S170 was stimulated by prior phosphorylation at the S15 site. The SUS-binding peptides encoded by early nodulin 40 (ENOD40) specifically antagonized S170 phosphorylation in vitro. A model wherein S170 phosphorylation functions as part of a mechanism targeting SUS for proteasome-mediated degradation is supported by the observations that SUS proteolytic fragments: (i) were detected and possessed relatively high phosphorylated-S170 (pS170) stoichiometry; (ii) were spatially coincident with proteasome activity within developing leaves; and (iii) co-sedimented with proteasome activity. In addition, full-length pS170-SUS protein was less stable than S170-SUS in cultured leaf segments and was stabilized by proteasome inhibition. Post-translational control of SUS protein level through pS170-promoted proteolysis may explain the specific and significant decrease in SUS abundance that accompanies the sink-to-source transition in developing maize leaves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)588-603
Number of pages16
JournalPlant Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2003


  • CDPK
  • Maize
  • Phosphorylation
  • Proteasome
  • SnRK1
  • Sucrose synthase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology


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