Cytoskeletal protein kinases: titin and its relations in mechanosensing.
Titin, the giant elastic ruler protein of striated muscle sarcomeres, contains a catalytic kinase domain related to a family of intrasterically regulated protein kinases. The most extensively studied member of this branch of the human kinome is the Ca(2+)-calmodulin (CaM)-regulated myosin light-chain kinases (MLCK). However, not all kinases of the MLCK branch are functional MLCKs, and about half lack a CaM binding site in their C-terminal autoinhibitory tail (AI). A unifying feature is their association with the cytoskeleton, mostly via actin and myosin filaments. Titin kinase, similar to its invertebrate analogue twitchin kinase and likely other "MLCKs", is not Ca(2+)-calmodulin-activated. Recently, local protein unfolding of the C-terminal AI has emerged as a common mechanism in the activation of CaM kinases. Single-molecule data suggested that opening of the TK active site could also be achieved by mechanical unfolding of the AI. Mechanical modulation of catalytic activity might thus allow cytoskeletal signalling proteins to act as mechanosensors, creating feedback mechanisms between cytoskeletal tension and tension generation or cellular remodelling. Similar to other MLCK-like kinases like DRAK2 and DAPK1, TK is linked to protein turnover regulation via the autophagy/lysosomal system, suggesting the MLCK-like kinases have common functions beyond contraction regulation.