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RNA Biol. 2011 Nov-Dec;8(6):1061-72. doi: 10.4161/rna.8.6.16691. Epub 2011 Nov 1.

Differential effects of PKA-controlled CaMKK2 variants on neuronal differentiation.

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Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada.


Regulation between protein kinases is critical for the establishment of signaling pathways/networks to 'orchestrate' cellular processes. Besides posttranslational phosphorylation, alternative pre-mRNA splicing is another way to control kinase properties, but splicing regulation between two kinases and the effect of resulting variants on cells has barely been explored. Here we examined the effect of the protein kinase A (PKA) pathway on the alternative splicing and variant properties of the Ca²⁺/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase kinase 2 (CaMKK2) gene in B35 neuroblastoma cells. Inclusion of the exon 16 of CaMKK2 was significantly reduced by H89, a PKA selective inhibitor. Consistently, overexpressed PKA strongly promoted the exon inclusion in a CaMKK2 sequence-dependent way in splicing reporter assays. In vitro, purified CaMKKβ1 variant proteins were found to be kinase-active. In cells, they were differentially phosphorylated by PKA. In RNA interference assays, CaMKKβ1 was found to be essential for forskolin-induced neurite growth. Interestingly, overexpression of the variant without exon 16 (-E16) promoted neurite elongation while the other one (+E16) promoted neurite branching; in contrast, reduction of the latter one enhanced neurite elongation. Moreover, the variants are differentially expressed and the exon 16-containing transcripts highly enriched in the brain, particularly the cerebellum and hippocampus. Thus, PKA regulates the alternative splicing of CaMKK2 to produce variants that differentially modulate neuronal differentiation. Taken together with the many distinct variants of kinases, alternative splicing regulation likely adds another layer of modulation between protein kinases in cellular signaling networks.

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