A conserved docking motif for CK1 binding controls the nuclear localization of NFAT1

Mol Cell Biol. 2004 May;24(10):4184-95. doi: 10.1128/mcb.24.10.4184-4195.2004.


In resting cells, the NFAT1 transcription factor is kept inactive in the cytoplasm by phosphorylation on multiple serine residues. These phosphorylated residues are primarily contained within two types of serine-rich motifs, the SRR-1 and SP motifs, which are conserved within the NFAT family. Several different kinases have been proposed to regulate NFAT, but no single candidate displays the specificity required to fully phosphorylate both types of motifs; thus, the identity of the kinase that regulates NFAT activity remains unclear. Here we show that the NFAT1 serine motifs are regulated by distinct kinases that must coordinate to control NFAT1 activation. CK1 phosphorylates only the SRR-1 motif, the primary region required for NFAT1 nuclear import. CK1 exists with NFAT1 in a high-molecular-weight complex in resting T cells but dissociates upon activation. GSK3 does not phosphorylate the SRR-1 region but can target the NFAT1 SP-2 motif, and it synergizes with CK1 to regulate NFAT1 nuclear export. We identify a conserved docking site for CK1 in NFAT proteins and show that mutation of this site disrupts NFAT1-CK1 interaction and causes constitutive nuclear localization of NFAT1. The CK1 docking motif is present in proteins of the Wnt, Hedgehog, and circadian-rhythm pathways, which also integrate the activities of CK1 and GSK3.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Active Transport, Cell Nucleus
  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Casein Kinases
  • Conserved Sequence
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / chemistry*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 / chemistry
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 / genetics
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 / metabolism
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Jurkat Cells
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Mice
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • NFATC Transcription Factors
  • Nuclear Proteins*
  • Protein Kinases / chemistry
  • Protein Kinases / genetics
  • Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / chemistry
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transcription Factors / chemistry*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • NFATC Transcription Factors
  • NFATC2 protein, human
  • Nfatc2 protein, mouse
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • Protein Kinases
  • Casein Kinases
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3