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J Gen Physiol. 2005 Feb;125(2):113-25.

GCK-3, a newly identified Ste20 kinase, binds to and regulates the activity of a cell cycle-dependent ClC anion channel.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesiology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN 37232, USA.


CLH-3b is a Caenorhabditis elegans ClC anion channel that is expressed in the worm oocyte. The channel is activated during oocyte meiotic maturation and in response to cell swelling by serine/threonine dephosphorylation events mediated by the type 1 phosphatases GLC-7alpha and GLC-7beta. We have now identified a new member of the Ste20 kinase superfamily, GCK-3, that interacts with the CLH-3b COOH terminus via a specific binding motif. GCK-3 inhibits CLH-3b in a phosphorylation-dependent manner when the two proteins are coexpressed in HEK293 cells. clh-3 and gck-3 are expressed predominantly in the C. elegans oocyte and the fluid-secreting excretory cell. Knockdown of gck-3 expression constitutively activates CLH-3b in nonmaturing worm oocytes. We conclude that GCK-3 functions in cell cycle- and cell volume-regulated signaling pathways that control CLH-3b activity. GCK-3 inactivates CLH-3b by phosphorylating the channel and/or associated regulatory proteins. Our studies provide new insight into physiologically relevant signaling pathways that control ClC channel activity and suggest novel mechanisms for coupling cell volume changes to cell cycle events and for coordinately regulating ion channels and transporters that control cellular Cl- content, cell volume, and epithelial fluid secretion.

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