Myelin basic protein (MBP) is a multifunctional protein involved in maintaining the stability and integrity of the myelin sheath by a variety of interactions with membranes and with cytoskeletal and other proteins. A central segment of MBP is highly conserved in mammals and consists of a membrane surface-associated amphipathic α-helix, immediately followed by a proline-rich segment that we hypothesize is an SH3 ligand. We show by circular dichroic spectroscopy that this proline-rich segment forms a polyproline type II helix in vitro under physiological conditions and that phosphorylation at a constituent threonyl residue has a stabilizing effect on its conformation. Using SH3 domain microarrays, we observe that the unmodified recombinant murine 18.5 kDa MBP isoform (rmC1 component) binds the following SH3 domains: Yes1 > PSD95 > cortactin = PexD = Abl = Fyn = c-Src = Itk in order of decreasing affinity. A quasi-deiminated form of the protein (rmC8) binds the SH3 domains Yes1 > Fyn > cortactin = c-Src > PexD = Abl. Phosphorylation of rmC1 at 1-2 threonines within the proline-rich segment by mitogen-activated protein kinase in vitro has no effect on the binding specificity to the SH3 domains on the array. An SH3 domain of chicken Fyn is also demonstrated to bind to lipid membrane-associated C1, phosphorylated C1, and rmC8. Molecular docking simulations of the interaction of the putative SH3 ligand of classic MBP with the human Fyn SH3 domain indicate that the strength of the interaction is of the same order of magnitude as with calmodulin and that the molecular recognition and association is mediated by some weak CH⋯π interactions between the ligand prolyl residues and the aromatic ones of the SH3 binding site. One such interaction is well-conserved and involves the stacking of an MBP-peptide prolyl and an SH3 domain tryptophanyl residue, as in most other SH3-ligand complexes. Lysyl and arginyl residues in the peptide canonically interact via salt bridges and cation-π interactions with negatively charged and aromatic residues in the SH3 domain binding site. Posttranslational modifications (phosphorylation or methylation) of the ligand cause noticeable shifts in the conformation of the flexible peptide and its side chains but do not predict any major inhibition of the binding beyond somewhat less favorable interactions for peptides with phosphorylated seryl or threonyl residues.
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