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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1995 Jan 3;92(1):239-43.

Identification, activity, and structural studies of peptides incorporating the phorbol ester-binding domain of protein kinase C.

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  • 1Stanford University, Department of Chemistry, CA 94305.


The family of homologous enzymes known as protein kinase C (PKC) has been the object of intense interest because of its crucial role in cellular signal transduction. Although considerable information about the activation of PKC has been gained through structure-activity, molecular modeling, and synthetic studies of both natural and designed activators, information about the structure of PKC itself has been limited by its large size and requirement for phospholipid cofactors. Additionally, difficulties in the purification of truncated mutants of PKC have thus far prevented their analysis by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) or x-ray crystallographic methods. We describe the identification, synthesis, ligand-binding analysis, cofactor requirements, and preliminary NMR evaluation of two subdomains (peptides B and C) of the regulatory domain of PKC-gamma. Peptides B and C bind [3H]phorbol 12,13-dibutyrate with good affinity (Kd = 6.4 microM and 414 nM, respectively) in the presence of phosphatidylserine. In comparison, the binding affinity of [3H]phorbol 12,13-dibutyrate for PKC was found to be 2.6 nM. Like PKC itself, these peptides also recognize other PKC activators, including dioctanoylglycerol and teleocidin B-4, and exhibit an ability to differentiate phorbol ester from its C-4 epimer. NMR studies of PKC subdomains are also described, indicating that both peptides B and C are well behaved in solution and do not exhibit any concentration-dependent changes. Finally, these studies reveal that peptide B becomes conformationally ordered only in the presence of phospholipid, suggesting that the regulatory domain of PKC itself might be organized for activation only when associated with the lipid bilayer, where its activator (diacylglycerol) is encountered.

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