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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the author’s final published version in eLife

Volume 6, April 2017, Article number e24665.

The published version is available at DOI: 10.7554/eLife.24665. Copyright © Filter et al.


The small phosphoprotein pCPI-17 inhibits myosin light-chain phosphatase (MLCP). Current models postulate that during muscle relaxation, phosphatases other than MLCP dephosphorylate and inactivate pCPI-17 to restore MLCP activity. We show here that such hypotheses are insufficient to account for the observed rapidity of pCPI-17 inactivation in mammalian smooth muscles. Instead, MLCP itself is the critical enzyme for pCPI-17 dephosphorylation. We call the mutual sequestration mechanism through which pCPI-17 and MLCP interact inhibition by unfair competition: MLCP protects pCPI-17 from other phosphatases, while pCPI-17 blocks other substrates from MLCP's active site. MLCP dephosphorylates pCPI-17 at a slow rate that is, nonetheless, both sufficient and necessary to explain the speed of pCPI-17 dephosphorylation and the consequent MLCP activation during muscle relaxation.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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