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J Biol Chem. 2000 Mar 10;275(10):6850-6.

Casein kinase II phosphorylates lens connexin 45.6 and is involved in its degradation.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, Texas 78284-7760, USA.


Connexin (Cx) 45.6, an avian counterpart of rodent Cx50, is phosphorylated in vivo, but the sites and function of the phosphorylation have not been elucidated. Our peptide mapping experiments showed that the Ser(363) site in the carboxyl (COOH) terminus of Cx45.6 was phosphorylated and that this site is within casein kinase (CK) II consensus sequence, although showing some similarity to CKI sequence. The peptide containing Ser(363) could be phosphorylated in vitro by CKII, but not by CKI. Furthermore, CKII phosphorylated Cx45.6 in embryonic lens membrane and the fusion protein containing the COOH terminus of Cx45.6. Two-dimensional peptide mapping experiments showed that one of the Cx45.6 peptides phosphorylated in vivo migrated to the same spot as one of those phosphorylated by CKII in vitro. Furthermore, CKII activity could be detected in lens lysates. To assess the function of this phosphorylation event, exogenous wild type and mutant Cx45.6 (Ser(363) --> Ala) were expressed in lens primary cultures by retroviral infection. The mutant Cx45.6 was shown to be more stable having a longer half-life compared with wild type Cx45.6. Together, the evidence suggests that CKII is likely a kinase responsible for the Ser(363) phosphorylation, leading to the destablization and degradation of Cx45.6. The connexin degradation induced by phosphorylation has a broad functional significance in the regulation of gap junctions in vivo.

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