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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Myxococcus xanthus, a gram-negative bacterium, contains a transmembrane protein serine/threonine kinase that blocks the secretion of beta-lactamase by phosphorylation.

A gene, pkn2, encoding a Myxococcus xanthus protein with significant similarities to eukaryotic protein serine/threonine kinases, was cloned using the polymerase chain reaction. The open reading frame for the protein, beginning with a GUG initiation codon, consists of 830 amino acids. The amino-terminal 279 residues show 37% identity to catalytic domain of Pkn1, another protein serine/threonine kinase expressed during the development at the onset of sporulation. The catalytic domain of Pkn2 contains 27% and 25% identity to rat Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase and Bos taurus rhodopsin kinase, respectively. In the middle of the carboxy-terminal regulatory domain, there is a typical transmembrane domain consisting of 18 hydrophobic residues. The gene product, Pkn2, produced in Escherichia coli under a T7 promoter was phosphorylated at both serine and threonine residues. TEM-beta-lactamase produced in E. coli was found to serve as an effective substrate for Pkn2, phosphorylated only at threonine residues, shifting its apparent molecular mass from 29 to 44 kD. The phosphorylated beta-lactamase was unable to be secreted into the periplasmic space and localized in the cytoplasmic and membrane fractions. Analysis of phoA fusions with pkn2 demonstrated that Pkn2 is a transmembrane protein with the kinase domain in the cytoplasm and the 207-residue carboxy-terminal domain outside the cytoplasmic membrane. Disruption of pkn2 showed no effect on vegetative growth but reduced the yield of myxospores by 30%-50%. On the basis of the present results, we propose that Pkn2 is a transmembrane protein serine/threonine kinase that regulates the activity of endogenous beta-lactamase or related enzymes in response to an external signal yet to be identified.[1]


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