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FEBS Lett. 1999 Sep 3;457(3):452-4.

Spatial gradients of cellular phospho-proteins.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge, Tennis Court Road, Cambrigde, UK.


If a protein is rapidly phosphorylated and dephosphorylated at separate cellular locations and protein diffusion is slow, then a spatial gradient of the phosphorylated form of the protein may develop within the cell. We have estimated the potential size of such gradients using measured values of protein diffusion coefficients and protein kinase and phosphatase activities. We analysed two different cellular geometries: (1) where the kinases is located on the plasma membrane of a spherical cell and the phospatase is distributed homogenously in the cytoplasm and (2) where the kinase is located on one planar membrane and the phosphatase on a second parallel planar membrane. The estimated gradients of phospho-proteins were potentially very large, which has important implications for cellular signalling.

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