Background: The human kinome containing 478 eukaryotic protein kinases has over 100 uncharacterized kinases with unknown substrates and biological functions. The Ser/Thr kinase 35 (STK35, Clik1) is a member of the NKF 4 (New Kinase Family 4) in the kinome with unknown substrates and biological functions. Various high throughput studies indicate that STK35 could be involved in various human diseases such as colorectal cancer and malaria.
Methodology/principal findings: In this study, we found that the previously published coding sequence of the STK35 gene is incomplete. The newly identified sequence of the STK35 gene codes for a protein of 534 amino acids with a N-terminal elongation of 133 amino acids. It has been designated as STK35L (STK35 long). Since it is the first of further homologous kinases we termed it as STK35L1. The STK35L1 protein (58 kDa on SDS-PAGE), but not STK35 (44 kDa), was found to be expressed in all human cells studied (endothelial cells, HeLa, and HEK cells) and was down-regulated after silencing with specific siRNA. EGFP-STK35L1 was localized in the nucleus and the nucleolus. By combining syntenic and gene structure pattern data and homology searches, two further STK35L1 homologs, STK35L2 (previously known as PDIK1L) and STK35L3, were found. All these protein kinase homologs were conserved throughout the vertebrates. The STK35L3 gene was specifically lost during placental mammalian evolution. Using comparative genomics, we have identified orthologous sets of these three protein kinases genes and their possible ancestor gene in two sea squirt genomes.
Conclusions/significance: We found the full-length coding sequence of the STK35 gene and termed it as STK35L1. We identified a new third STK35-like gene, STK35L3, in vertebrates and a possible ancestor gene in sea squirt genome. This study will provide a comprehensive platform to explore the role of STK35L kinases in cell functions and human diseases.