Determining the Intrinsic Properties of the C1B Domain that Influence PKC Ligand Specificity and Sensitivity to Reactive Oxygen Species
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Each member of the protein kinase C (PKC) family activates cell signaling pathways with different and sometimes opposing cell functions, such as cell division, migration, or death. Because of the importance of these processes in human diseases and disorders like cancer, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease, there is a need for drugs which modify the action of PKC. However, drug design is difficult due to the complicated nature of PKC regulation. To better understand the differential regulation of PKC activity, these studies probe the structure, dynamics, and reactivity of one of the domains responsible for PKC regulation, C1B. C1B binds signaling molecules and translocates PKC to membranes in order to release the kinase domain from inhibition. Mutagenesis and ligand-binding assays monitored with fluorescence and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) techniques show that a single variable residue in C1B dramatically affects the sensitivity to signal activators. Investigation of the domain structure and dynamics using NMR revealed the identity of this residue alters the dynamics of the activator binding loops, without changing the structure. NMR studies of the C1B variants in membrane-mimicking micelles showed this residue also changes the interaction of the regulatory domain with lipids. These results demonstrate PKC isoforms have evolved specific functions by tuning dynamics and membrane affinity. Alternatively, PKC can be activated by reactive oxygen species by a mechanism that does not require binding of signaling molecules or membrane localization. To investigate the role of C1B in this type of signaling, the regulatory domain reactivity is monitored via NMR and gel electrophoresis. These studies reveal a particular cysteine residue in C1B that is most reactive, an alternative conformation of C1B in which this residue is more exposed, and modification of C1B leads to unfolding and zinc loss. Because the regulatory domains are responsible for auto-inhibition of the kinase domain, C1B unfolding provides a plausible explanation for activation of PKC by reactive oxygen species. The relation of the intrinsic C1B properties to the activation of PKC can be used to develop drugs with a single mechanism and to better understand how closely related signaling proteins develop specific functions.
Stewart, Mikaela D. (2013). Determining the Intrinsic Properties of the C1B Domain that Influence PKC Ligand Specificity and Sensitivity to Reactive Oxygen Species. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from