Zyxin contains a proline-rich N-terminal domain that is similar to the C-terminal domain in the ActA protein of the bacteria, Listeria monocytogenes. We screened the entire amino acid sequence of human zyxin for Mena-interacting peptides and found that, as with ActA, proline-rich sequences were the sole zyxin sequences capable of binding to Ena/vasodilator-stimulated phosphoprotein (VASP) family members in vitro. From this information, we tested zyxin mutants in which the proline-rich sequences were altered. The reduction in Mena/VASP binding was confirmed by peptide tests, immunoprecipitation, and ectopic expression of zyxin variants at the surface of mitochondria. By transfection assays we showed that zyxin interaction with Mena/VASP in vivo enhances the production of actin-rich structures at the apical surface of cells. Microinjection into cells of peptides corresponding to the first proline-rich sequence of zyxin caused the loss of Mena/VASP from focal contacts. Furthermore, these peptides reduced the degree of spreading of cells replated after trypsinization. We conclude that zyxin and proteins that harbor similar proline-rich repeats contribute to the positioning of Mena/VASP proteins. The positioning of Ena/VASP family members appears to be important when the actin cytoskeleton is reorganized, such as during spreading.
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