Although cytoskeletal proteins such as myosin II are implicated in the control of insulin secretion, their precise role is poorly understood. In other secretory cells, myosin II is predominantly regulated via the phosphorylation of the regulatory light chains (RLC). The current study was aimed at investigating RLC phosphorylation in beta-cells. In both the insulin-secreting cell line RINm5F and rat pancreatic islets, the RLC was basally phosphorylated on the myosin light chain kinase sites (Ser19/Thr18). Phosphorylation at these sites was not consistently increased by either metabolic stimuli (glyceraldehyde/glucose) or the depolarizing agent KCl. The RLC sites phosphorylated by protein kinase C (PKC) (Ser1/Ser2) were unphosphorylated in the basal state, not affected by nutrients or KCl, and only slightly increased by the PKC activator phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA). Like the other insulin secretagogues, however, PMA did promote serine phosphorylation of the myosin heavy chain (MHC) in RINm5F cells. Phosphopeptide mapping suggested that the same peptide was phosphorylated under both PMA and glyceraldehyde stimulation, which further extends our previous study of the Ca2+-dependent phosphorylation of this protein (Wilson JR, Ludowyke RI, Biden TJ: Nutrient stimulation results in a rapid Ca2+-dependent threonine phosphorylation of myosin heavy chain in rat pancreatic islets and RINm5F cells. J Biol Chem 273:22729-22737, 1998). Overall, our results demonstrate that in RINm5F cells and rat pancreatic islets, MHC phosphorylation correlates better with insulin secretion than phosphorylation of the RLC. We therefore propose that in beta-cells, in contrast to other secretory cells, phosphorylation of the MHC is more important than that of the RLC for regulation of the myosin II protein complex during insulin secretion.

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