TIS21 is induced transiently by PMA and a number of extracellular stimuli. Yeast two-hybrid screening has identified three TIS21 interacting clones from a rat cDNA library [Lin, Gary, Yang, Clarke and Herschman (1996) J. Biol. Chem 271, 15034-15044]. The amino acid sequence deduced from clone 5A shows 96.9% identity with the murine PICK1, a protein kinase Calpha (PKCalpha)-binding protein postulated to act as an intracellular receptor for PKC. A fusion protein of glutathione S-transferase and rPICK1 associates with the TIS21 translated in vitro, suggesting a direct physical interaction between these two proteins. TIS21 and rPICK1 are co-immunoprecipitated from NIH 3T3 cells overexpressing these two proteins. This indicates that the interaction also occurs in mammalian cells. Deletion of the PDZ domain at the N-terminus of rPICK1 abolishes its interaction with TIS21. A putative carboxylate-binding loop required for PICK1 to bind PKCalpha [Staudinger, Lu and Olson (1997) J. Biol. Chem 272, 32019-32024] is within this deleted region. Our results suggest a potential competition between TIS21 and PKC for binding to PICK1. We show that recombinant TIS21 is phosphorylated by PKC in vitro. The catalytic activity of PKC towards TIS21 is significantly decreased in the presence of rPICK1, whereas phosphorylation of histone by PKC is not affected. rPICK1 seems to modulate the phosphorylation of TIS21 through specific interactions between these two proteins. TIS21 might have a role in PKC-mediated extracellular signal transduction through its interaction with rPICK1.