ABSTRACT

Discs large (Dlg) is an essential polarity protein and a tumor suppressor originally characterized in Drosophila but also well conserved in vertebrates. Like the majority of polarity proteins, plasma membrane (PM)/cortical localization of Dlg is required for its function in polarity and tumorigenesis, but the exact mechanisms targeting Dlg to the PM remain to be fully elucidated. Here, we show that, similar to recently discovered polybasic polarity proteins such as Lgl and aPKC, Dlg also contains a positively charged polybasic domain that electrostatically binds the PM phosphoinositides PI4P and PI(4,5)P2. Electrostatic targeting by the polybasic domain contributes significantly to the PM localization of Dlg in follicular and early embryonic epithelial cells, and is crucial for Dlg to regulate both polarity and tumorigenesis. The electrostatic PM targeting of Dlg is controlled by a potential phosphorylation-dependent allosteric regulation of its polybasic domain, and is specifically enhanced by the interactions between Dlg and another basolateral polarity protein and tumor suppressor, Scrib. Our studies highlight an increasingly significant role of electrostatic PM targeting of polarity proteins in regulating cell polarity.

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