Peutz-Jeghers Syndrome (PJS) is thought to be caused by mutations occurring in the widely expressed serine/threonine protein kinase named LKB1/STK11. Recent work has led to the identification of four mutants (R304W, I177N, K175-D176del, L263fsX286) and two novel aberrant LKB1/STK11 cDNA isoforms (r291-464del, r485-1283del) in a group of PJS Italian patients. Three of the four mutations only change 1 or 2 amino acids in the LKB1/STK11 catalytic domain. Here we demonstrate that all six LKB1/STK11 variants analysed are completely inactive in vitro as they were unable to autophosphorylate at Thr336, the major LKB1/STK11 autophosphorylation site, and to phosphorylate the p53 tumour suppressor protein. We also show that 5 out of the 6 variants are entirely localised in the nucleus in contrast to the wild type LKB1/STK11, which is detected in both the nucleus and cytoplasm. Finally we demonstrate that all 6 LKB1/STK11 variants, in contrast to wild type LKB1/STK11, are unable to suppress the growth of melanoma G361 cells. Taken together, these results demonstrate that the LKB1 mutations investigated in this study lead to the loss of serine/threonine kinase activity and are therefore likely to be the primary cause of PJS development in the patients that they were isolated from.
Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.