Phospholemman (PLM) or FXYD1 is a major cardiac myocyte phosphorylation target upon adrenergic stimulation. Prior immunoprecipitation and functional studies suggest that phospholemman associates with the Na/K-pump (NKA) and mediates adrenergic Na/K-pump regulation. Here, we tested whether the NKA-PLM interaction is close enough to allow fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) between cyan and yellow fluorescent (CFP/YFP) fusion proteins of Na/K pump and phospholemman and whether phospholemman phosphorylation alters such FRET. Co-expressed NKA-CFP and PLM-YFP in HEK293 cells co-localized in the plasma membrane and exhibited robust FRET. Selective acceptor photobleach increased donor fluorescence (FCFP) by 21.5 ± 4.1% (n = 13), an effect nearly abolished when co-expressing excess phospholemman lacking YFP. Activation of protein kinase C or A progressively and reversibly decreased FRET assessed by either the fluorescence ratio (FYFP/FCFP) or the enhancement of donor fluorescence after acceptor bleach. After protein kinase C activation, forskolin did not further reduce FRET, but after forskolin pretreatment, protein kinase C could still reduce FRET. This agreed with phospholemman phosphorylation measurements: by protein kinase C at both Ser-63 and Ser-68, but by protein kinase A only at Ser-68. Expression of PLM-YFP and PLMCFP resulted in even stronger FRET than for NKA-PLM (FCFP increased by 37 ± 1% upon YFP photobleach), and this FRET was enhanced by phospholemman phosphorylation, consistent with phospholemman multimerization. Co-expressed PLM-CFP and Na/Ca exchange-YFP were highly membrane co-localized, but FRET was undetectable. We conclude that phospholemman and Na/K-pump are in very close proximity (FRET occurs) and that phospholemman phosphorylation alters the interaction of Na/K-pump and phospholemman.
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