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Cyclic AMP (cAMP)-dependent protein kinase A (PKA) stimulates the transcription of many eucaryotic genes by catalyzing the phosphorylation of the cAMP-regulatory element binding protein (CREB). Conversely, the attenuation or inhibition of cAMP-stimulated gene transcription would require the dephosphorylation of CREB by a nuclear protein phosphatase. In HepG2 cells treated with the protein serine/threonine (Ser/Thr) phosphatase inhibitor okadaic acid, dibutyryl-cAMP-stimulated transcription from the phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (PEPCK) promoter was enhanced over the level of PEPCK gene transcription observed in cells treated with dibutyryl-cAMP alone. This process was mediated, at least in part, by a region of the PEPCK promoter that binds CREB. Likewise, okadaic acid prevents the dephosphorylation of PKA-phosphorylated CREB in rat liver nuclear extracts and enhances the ability of PKA to stimulate transcription from the PEPCK promoter in cell-free reactions. The ability of okadaic acid to enhance PKA-stimulated transcription in vitro was entirely dependent on the presence of CREB in the reactions. The phospho-CREB (P-CREB) phosphatase activity present in nuclear extracts coelutes with protein Ser/Thr phosphatase type 2A (PP2A) on Mono Q, amino-hexyl Sepharose, and heparin agarose columns and was chromatographically resolved from nuclear protein Ser/Thr-phosphatase type 1 (PP1). Furthermore, P-CREB phosphatase activity in nuclear extracts was unaffected by the heat-stable protein inhibitor-2, which is a potent and selective inhibitor of PP1. Nuclear PP2A dephosphorylated P-CREB 30-fold more efficiently than did nuclear PP1. Finally, when PKA-phosphorylated CREB was treated with immunopurified PP2A and PP1, the PP2A-treated CREB did not stimulate transcription from the PEPCK promoter in vitro, whereas the PP1-treated CREB retained the ability to stimulate transcription. Nuclear PP2A appears to be the primary phosphatase that dephosphorylates PKA-phosphorylated CREB.
Protein purification and molecular cloning have defined five classes of protein serine-threonine phosphatase catalytic subunits referred to as types 1, 2A, 2B (calcineurin), 2C, and X. Protein serine-threonine phosphatases 1, 2A, 2B, and X appear to have significant sequence homologies, whereas the 2C enzyme is more divergent. We have used the polymerase chain reaction to define the multiplicity of the closely related types 1, 2A, 2B, and X phosphatase catalytic subunits in two clonal cell lines, rat PC12 pheochromocytoma and rat FTO-2B hepatoma. RNAs for all four related phosphatase types were expressed in both cell lines. In addition to the phosphatase X enzyme, four phosphatase 1, two phosphatase 2A, and three phosphatase 2B isoforms were identified in PC12 and FTO-2B cells. The results indicate a large multiplicity of protein serine-threonine phosphatases within clonal cells of different tissue origin, suggesting that their role in cell regulation will be as divergent as that for the protein serine-threonine kinases.
Functional expression of recombinant wild-type phosphatase 2A catalytic subunit has been unsuccessful in the past. A nine-amino-acid peptide sequence (YP-YDVPDYA) derived from the influenza hemagglutinin protein was used to modify the NH2 and/or COOH terminus of the phosphatase 2A catalytic subunit. Addition of the nine-amino-acid sequence at the NH2 terminus allowed recombinant phosphatase 2A expression as a predominantly cytosolic phosphatase 2A enzyme. The 12CA5 monoclonal antibody that recognizes the nine-amino-acid hemagglutinin peptide sequence was used to immunoprecipitate the epitope-tagged phosphatase 2A catalytic subunit. Assay of the immunoprecipitated epitope-tagged phosphatase 2A demonstrated an okadaic acid-sensitive dephosphorylation of [32P] histone H1 and [32P]myelin basic protein similar to that measured with the wild-type enzyme. Functional phosphatase activity could be demonstrated for the NH2-terminal modified phosphatase 2A catalytic subunit following transient expression in COS cells or stable expression in Rat1a cells. In contrast, the COOH-terminal-modified phosphatase 2A catalytic subunit was very poorly expressed. The NH2-, COOH-modified subunit, having the nine-amino-acid hemagglutinin peptide sequence encoded at both termini of the polypeptide, was also expressed as a functional phosphatase 2A enzyme. Thus, NH2-terminal modification of the phosphatase 2A catalytic subunit results in a functional plasmid-expressed enzyme. The unique nine-amino-acid epitope-tag sequence also provides a method to easily resolve the recombinant phosphatase 2A from the endogenous wild-type gene product and related phosphatases expressed in cells.