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Activation Mechanisms of Conventional Protein Kinase C Isoforms Are Determined by the Ligand Affinity and Conformational Flexibility of Their C1 Domains*


The regulatory domains of conventional and novel protein kinases C (PKC) have two C1 domains (C1A and C1B) that have been identified as the interaction site for diacylglycerol (DAG) and phorbol ester. It has been reported that C1A and C1B domains of individual PKC isoforms play different roles in their membrane binding and activation; however, DAG affinity of individual C1 domains has not been quantitatively determined. In this study, we measured the affinity of isolated C1A and C1B domains of two conventional PKCs, PKCalpha and PKCgamma, for soluble and membrane-incorporated DAG and phorbol ester by isothermal calorimetry and surface plasmon resonance. The C1A and C1B domains of PKCalpha have opposite affinities for DAG and phorbol ester; i.e. the C1A domain with high affinity for DAG and the C1B domain with high affinity for phorbol ester. In contrast, the C1A and C1b domains of PKCgamma have comparably high affinities for both DAG and phorbol ester. Consistent with these results, mutational studies of full-length proteins showed that the C1A domain is critical for the DAG-induced activation of PKCalpha, whereas both C1A and C1B domains are involved in the DAG-induced activation of PKCgamma. Further mutational studies in conjunction with in vitro activity assay and monolayer penetration analysis indicated that, unlike the C1A domain of PKCalpha, neither the C1A nor the C1B domain of PKCgamma is conformationally restricted. Cell studies with enhanced green fluorescent protein-tagged PKCs showed that PKCalpha did not translocate to the plasma membrane in response to DAG at a basal intracellular calcium concentration due to the inaccessibility of its C1A domain, whereas PKCgamma rapidly translocated to the plasma membrane under the same conditions. These data suggest that differential activation mechanisms of PKC isoforms are determined by the DAG affinity and conformational flexibility of their C1 domains.

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