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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Pim kinases phosphorylate multiple sites on Bad and promote 14-3-3 binding and dissociation from Bcl-XL

Andrew Macdonald1, David G Campbell1, Rachel Toth1, Hilary McLauchlan2, C James Hastie2 and J Simon C Arthur1*

Author affiliations

1 MRC Protein Phosphorylation Unit, School of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, Dundee, DD1 5EH, UK

2 Division of Signal Transduction Therapy, School of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, Dundee, DD1 5EH, UK

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Citation and License

BMC Cell Biology 2006, 7:1  doi:10.1186/1471-2121-7-1

Published: 10 January 2006

Abstract

Background

Pim-1, 2 and 3 are a group of enzymes related to the calcium calmodulin family of protein kinases. Over-expression of Pim-1 and Pim-2 in mice promotes the development of lymphomas, and up-regulation of Pim expression has been observed in several human cancers.

Results

Here we show that the pim kinases are constitutively active when expressed in HEK-293 cells and are able to phosphorylate the Bcl-2 family member Bad on three residues, Ser112, Ser136 and Ser155 in vitro and in cells. In vitro mapping showed that Pim-2 predominantly phosphorylated Ser112, while Pim-1 phosphorylated Ser112, but also Ser136 and Ser155 at a reduced rate compared to Ser112. Pim-3 was found to be the least specific for Ser112, and the most effective at phosphorylating Ser136 and Ser155. Pim-3 was also able to phosphorylate other sites in Bad in vitro, including Ser170, another potential in vivo site. Mutation of Ser136 to alanine prevented the phosphorylation of Ser112 and Ser155 by Pim kinases in HEK-293 cells, suggesting that this site must be phosphorylated first in order to make the other sites accessible. Pim phosphorylation of Bad was also found to promote the 14-3-3 binding of Bad and block its association with Bcl-XL.

Conclusion

All three Pim kinase family members predominantly phosphorylate Bad on Ser112 and in addition are capable of phosphorylating Bad on multiple sites associated with the inhibition of the pro-apoptotic function of Bad in HEK-293 cells. This would be consistent with the proposed function of Pim kinases in promoting cell proliferation and preventing cell death.