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Eur J Biochem. 1986 Nov 17;161(1):177-84.

Substrate specificity of protein kinase C. Use of synthetic peptides corresponding to physiological sites as probes for substrate recognition requirements.


Although the Ca2+/phospholipid-dependent protein kinase, protein kinase C, has a broad substrate specificity in vitro, the enzyme appears considerably less promiscuous in vivo. To date only a handful of proteins have been identified as physiological substrates for this protein kinase. In order to determine the basis for this selectivity for substrates in intact cells, we have probed the substrate primary sequence requirements of protein kinase C using synthetic peptides corresponding to sites of phosphorylation from four of the known physiological substrates. We have also identified the acetylated N-terminal serine of chick muscle lactate dehydrogenase as an in vitro site of phosphorylation for this protein kinase. These comparative studies have demonstrated that, in vivo, the enzyme exhibits a preference for one basic residue C-terminal to the phosphorylatable residue, as in the sequence: Ser/Thr-Xaa-Lys/Arg, where Xaa is usually an uncharged residue. Additional basic residues, both N and C-terminal to the target amino acid, enhance the Vmax and Km parameters of phosphorylation. None of the peptides based on physiological phosphorylation sites of protein kinase C was an efficient substrate of cAMP-dependent protein kinase, emphasizing the distinct site-recognition selectivities of these two pleiotropic protein kinases. The favorable kinetic parameters of several of the synthetic peptides, coupled with their selectivity for phosphorylation by protein kinase C, will facilitate the assay of this enzyme in the presence of other protein kinases in tissue and cell extracts.

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