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DOI: 10.1101/2023.03.06.531310

FAM122A ensures cell cycle interphase progression and checkpoint control as a SLiM-dependent substrate-competitive inhibitor to the B55/PP2A phosphatase

J. S.Wasserman B. Faezov K. R. Patel ...+11 X. Grana
The Ser/Thr protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) is a highly conserved collection of heterotrimeric holoenzymes responsible for the dephosphorylation of many regulated phosphoproteins. Substrate recognition and the integration of regulatory cues are mediated by B regulatory subunits that are complexed to the catalytic subunit (C) by a scaffold protein (A). PP2A/B55 substrate recruitment was thought to be mediated by charge-charge interactions between the surface of B55 and its substrates. Challenging this view, we recently discovered a conserved SLiM [RK]-V-x-x-[VI]-R in a range of proteins, including substrates such as the retinoblastoma-related protein p107 and TAU (Fowle et al. eLife 2021;10:e63181). Here we report the identification of this SLiM in FAM122A, an inhibitor of B55/PP2A. This conserved SLiM is necessary for FAM122A binding to B55 in vitro and in cells. Computational structure prediction with AlphaFold2 predicts an interaction consistent with the mutational and biochemical data and supports a mechanism whereby FAM122A uses the SLiM in the form of a short -helix to dock to the B55 top groove. In this model, FAM122A spatially constrains substrate access by occluding the catalytic subunit with a second -helix immediately adjacent to helix 1. Consistently, FAM122A functions as a competitive inhibitor as it prevents binding of substrates in in vitro competition assays and the dephosphorylation of CDK substrates by B55/PP2A in cell lysates. Ablation of FAM122A in human cell lines reduces the rate of proliferation, progression through cell cycle transitions and abrogates G1/S and intra-S phase cell cycle checkpoints. FAM122A-KO in HEK293 cells results in attenuation of CHK1 and CHK2 activation in response to replication stress. Overall, these data strongly suggest that FAM122A is a SLiM-dependent, substrate-competitive inhibitor of B55/PP2A that suppresses multiple functions of B55 in the DNA damage response and in timely progression through the cell cycle interphase.