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J Biol Chem. 2002 Dec 6;277(49):47878-84. Epub 2002 Oct 7.

Phosphorylation of the catalytic subunit of protein kinase A. Autophosphorylation versus phosphorylation by phosphoinositide-dependent kinase-1.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093-0654, USA.


The identification of phosphoinositide-dependent kinase-1 (PDK-1) as an activating kinase for members of the AGC family of kinases has led to its implication as the activating kinase for cAMP-dependent protein kinase. It has been established in vitro that PDK-1 can phosphorylate the catalytic (C) subunit (), but the Escherichia coli-expressed C-subunit undergoes autophosphorylation. To assess which of these mechanisms occurs in mammalian cells, a set of mutations was engineered flanking the site of PDK-1 phosphorylation, Thr-197, on the activation segment of the C-subunit. Two distinct requirements appeared for autophosphorylation and phosphorylation by PDK-1. Autophosphorylation was disrupted by mutations that compromised activity (Thr-201 and Gly-200) or altered substrate recognition (Arg-194). Conversely, only residues peripheral to Thr-197 altered PDK-1 phosphorylation, including a potential hydrophobic PDK-1 binding site at the C terminus. To address the in vivo requirements for phosphorylation, select mutant proteins were transfected into COS-7 cells, and their phosphorylation state was assessed with phospho-specific antibodies. The phosphorylation pattern of these mutant proteins indicates that autophosphorylation is not the maturation mechanism in the eukaryotic cell; instead, a heterologous kinase with properties resembling the in vitro characteristics of PDK-1 is responsible for in vivo phosphorylation of PKA.

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