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Gene. 2002 Jan 9;282(1-2):237-46.

Identification, tissue expression and chromosomal localization of human Obscurin-MLCK, a member of the titin and Dbl families of myosin light chain kinases.

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Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases, Division of Pediatric Cardiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.


Members of the Dbl family of guanine nucleotide exchange factors (GEFs) have important roles in the organization of actin-based cytoskeletal structures of a wide variety of cell types. Through the activation of members of the Rho family of GTP signaling molecules, these exchange factors elicit cytoskeletal alterations that allow cellular remodeling. As important regulators of RhoGTPase activity, members of this family are candidates for mediating the RhoGTPase activation and cytoskeletal changes that occur during cardiac development and during the myocardial response to hypertrophic stimuli. In this study, we characterize a novel human gene that is expressed in skeletal and cardiac muscle and has putative functional domains similar to those found in members of both the Dbl family of GEFs and the titin family of myosin light chain kinases (MLCK). The cDNA sequence of this gene, which has been designated Obscurin-myosin light chain kinase (Obscurin-MLCK), would be predicted to encode for at least 68 immunoglobulin domains, two fibronectin domains, one calcium/calmodulin binding domain, a RhoGTP exchange factor domain, and two serine-threonine kinase domains. The combination of the putative Rho GEF and two kinase domains has not been noted in any other members of the titin or Dbl families. Alternative splicing allows the generation of a number of unique Obscurin-MLCK isoforms that contain various combinations of the functional domains. One group of isoforms is comparable to Unc-89, a Caenorhabditis elegans sarcomere-associated protein, in that they contain a putative RhoGEF domain and multiple immunoglobulin repeats. Other isoforms more closely resemble MLCK, containing one or both of the putative carboxy-terminal serine-threonine kinase domains. The modular nature of the Obscurin-MLCK isoforms indicates that it may have an array of functions important to cardiac and skeletal muscle physiology.

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