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J Biol Chem. 1998 Jul 31;273(31):19763-71.

Phosphorylation at the nuclear localization signal of Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II blocks its nuclear targeting.

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Department of Neurobiology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California 94305-5125, USA.


Translocation of protein kinases with broad substrate specificities between different subcellular compartments by activation of signaling pathways is an established mechanism to direct the activity of these enzymes toward particular substrates. Recently, we identified two isoforms of Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaM kinase II), which are targeted to the nucleus by an alternatively spliced nuclear localization signal (NLS). Here we report that cotransfection with constitutively active mutants of CaM kinase I or CaM kinase IV specifically blocks nuclear targeting of CaM kinase II as a result of phosphorylation of a Ser immediately adjacent to the NLS of CaM kinase II. Both CaM kinase I and CaM kinase IV are able to phosphorylate this Ser residue in vitro, and mutagenesis studies suggest that this phosphorylation is both necessary and sufficient to block nuclear targeting. Furthermore, we provide experimental evidence that introduction of a negatively charged residue at this phosphorylation site reduces binding of the kinase to an NLS receptor in vitro, thus providing a mechanism that may explain the blockade of nuclear targeting that we have observed in situ.

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