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J Biol Chem. 1994 May 20;269(20):14820-7.

Origin, properties, and regulated expression of multiple mRNAs encoded by the protein kinase C1 gene of Caenorhabditis elegans.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Atran Laboratories, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York 10461.


Recently, we cloned and characterized cDNA encoding a novel, protein kinase C (designated PKC1B) from Caenorhabditis elegans. PKC1B (707 amino acid residues) is a developmentally regulated, calcium-independent kinase that is expressed exclusively in sensory neurons and related interneurons. We have now discovered a mechanism by which a second, distinct mRNA (PKC1A mRNA) with increased protein coding potential is generated from the C. elegans PKC1 gene. PKC1A mRNA is produced in a process that involves the utilization of an alternative, distal promoter, the incorporation of two unique exons into the mRNA, and alternative cis/trans splicing. Diversity among PKC1 gene transcripts is increased substantially by trans-splicing. The 5' end of PKC1A mRNA contains an acceptor site that is modified by the addition of either a classical spliced leader sequence 2 or one of four novel spliced leaders. PKC1A mRNA encodes a predicted kinase that contains the entire sequence of PKC1B as well as an N-terminal extension of 56 residues. The extension contains a preponderance of basic amino acids. The levels of transcripts arising from the distal (1A) and proximal (1B) promoters for the PKC1 gene are differentially regulated during C. elegans development. The ratio of 1B mRNA:1A mRNA varies from 40:1 to unity as the nematodes progress from early larval stages to mature adults. The novel exons in the PKC1A structural gene are not contiguous with the PKC1A promoter but are instead positioned downstream from a second gene, kinase upstream gene-1, in the context of a multicystronic operon. PKC1A and kinase upstream gene-1 mRNAs are coordinately expressed in a fixed ratio throughout C. elegans post-embryonic development, suggesting that a shared upstream promoter regulates transcription of both genes. Finally, PKC1A and PKC1B mRNA levels are differentially regulated by phorbol esters in a process that may involve the participation of another PKC isoform that is analogous to mammalian PKC delta.

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