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, 273 (52), 35347-54

Functional Domains of the alpha1 Catalytic Subunit of the AMP-activated Protein Kinase

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Functional Domains of the alpha1 Catalytic Subunit of the AMP-activated Protein Kinase

B E Crute et al. J Biol Chem.

Abstract

The AMP-activated protein kinase is a heterotrimeric enzyme, important in cellular adaptation to the stress of nutrient starvation, hypoxia, increased ATP utilization, or heat shock. This mammalian enzyme is composed of a catalytic alpha subunit and noncatalytic beta and gamma subunits and is a member of a larger protein kinase family that includes the SNF1 kinase of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In the present study, we have identified by truncation and site-directed mutagenesis several functional domains of the alpha1 catalytic subunit, which modulate its activity, subunit association, and protein turnover. C-terminal truncation of the 548-amino acid (aa) wild-type alpha1 protein to aa 312 or 392 abolishes the binding of the beta/gamma subunits and dramatically increases protein expression. The full-length wild-type alpha1 subunit is only minimally active in the absence of co-expressed beta/gamma, and alpha1(1-392) likewise has little activity. Further truncation to aa 312, however, is associated with a large increase in enzyme specific activity, thus revealing an autoinhibitory sequence between aa 313 and 392. alpha-1(1-312) still requires the phosphorylation of the activation loop Thr-172 for enzyme activity, yet is now independent of the allosteric activator, AMP. The increased levels of protein expression on transient transfection of either truncated alpha subunit cDNA are because of a decrease in enzyme turnover by pulse-chase analysis. Taken together, these data indicate that the alpha1 subunit of AMP-activated protein kinase contains several features that determine enzyme activity and stability. A constitutively active form of the kinase that does not require participation by the noncatalytic subunits provides a unique reagent for exploring the functions of AMP-activated protein kinase.

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