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Cell Physiol Biochem. 2003;13(1):1-12.

Stimulus-dependent regulation of serum and glucocorticoid inducible protein kinase (SGK) transcription, subcellular localization and enzymatic activity.

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Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, and The Cancer Research Laboratory, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-3200, USA.


We originally discovered the serum and glucocorticoid inducible protein kinase, SGK, as a novel protein kinase that is under acute transcriptional control by serum and glucocorticoids. An expanding set of cell surface receptor, nuclear receptor, and cellular stress pathways has been shown to target SGK, which has implicated this regulated signaling molecule in a variety of biological functions. Compared to most other protein kinases, a distinguishing feature of SGK is the stringent stimulus-dependent regulation of its transcription, subcellular localization and enzymatic activity. In addition, SGK expression is regulated during discrete developmental stages, and during normal and abnormal physiological function. An analysis of the SGK promoter reveals many potential transcription factor sites that potentially account for the stimulus-dependent changes in SGK transcript expression observed in a variety of cell systems, although, the direct stimulus regulation of SGK promoter activity has been established only for glucocorticoids, p53 tumor suppressor protein, hyperosmotic stress and follicle stimulating hormone. In the systems tested to date, hormones, growth factors and environmental cues induce expression of a catalytically active SGK. It is now well established that the enzymatic activity of SGK is controlled by the PI 3-kinase cascade which produces a hyperphosphorylated active SGK. A critical third level of regulation is the stimulus-dependent control of SGK subcellular localization. The nuclear-cytoplasmic shuttling of SGK is regulated by a nuclear localization signal (NLS) that binds to the importin-alpha nuclear import receptor. Modeling of the 3-D structure of the central region of SGK that includes the kinase domain predicts that the NLS is located at an external surface of the molecule. Thus, multiple signal transduction pathways converge on SGK to control its availability, function and access to its substrates and non-substrate targets.

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