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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Arginine methylation is required for canonical Wnt signaling and endolysosomal trafficking.

  • Author(s): Albrecht, Lauren V
  • Ploper, Diego
  • Tejeda-Muñoz, Nydia
  • De Robertis, Edward M
  • et al.

Arginine methylation has emerged as a widespread and reversible protein modification with the potential to regulate a multitude of cellular processes, but its function is poorly understood. Endolysosomes play an important role in Wnt signaling, in which glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3) becomes sequestered inside multivesicular bodies (MVBs) by the process known as microautophagy, causing the stabilization of many proteins. Up to 20% of cellular proteins contain three or more consecutive putative GSK3 sites, and of these 33% also contain methylarginine (meArg) modifications. Intriguingly, a cytoskeletal protein was previously known to have meArg modifications that enhanced subsequent phosphorylations by GSK3. Here, we report the unexpected finding that protein arginine methyltransferase 1 (PRMT1) is required for canonical Wnt signaling. Treatment of cultured cells for 5-30 min with Wnt3a induced a large increase in total endocytic vesicles which were also positive for asymmetric dimethylarginine modifications. Protease protection studies, both biochemical and in situ in cultured cells, showed that many meArg-modified cytosolic proteins became rapidly translocated into MVBs together with GSK3 and Lys48-polyubiquitinated proteins by ESCRT-driven microautophagy. In the case of the transcription factor Smad4, we showed that a unique arginine methylation site was required for GSK3 phosphorylation and Wnt regulation. The enzyme PRMT1 was found to be essential for Wnt-stimulated arginine methylation, GSK3 sequestration, and canonical Wnt signaling. The results reveal a cell biological role for PRMT1 arginine methylation at the crossroads of growth factor signaling, protein phosphorylation, membrane trafficking, cytosolic proteolysis, and Wnt-regulated microautophagy.

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