Members of the Plant CRK-superfamily are Capable of trans-/auto-Phosphorylation of Tyrosine Residues [Signal Transduction]

May 12th, 2015 by Nemoto, K., Takemori, N., Seki, M., Shinozaki, K., Sawasaki, T.

Protein phosphorylation on Tyr residues is a key post-translational modification in mammals. In plants, recent studies have identified Tyr-specific protein phosphatase and Tyr-phosphorylated proteins in Arabidopsis by phosphoproteomic screenings, implying that plants have a Tyr phosphorylation signal pathway. However, little is known about the protein kinases (PKs) involved in Tyr phosphorylation in plants. Here, we demonstrate that Arabidopsis calcium-dependent protein kinase (CDPK/CPK)-related PKs (CRKs) have high Tyr autophosphorylation activity and that they can phosphorylate Tyr residue(s) on substrate proteins in Arabidopsis. In order to identify PKs for Tyr phosphorylation, we examined the autophosphorylation activity of 759 PKs using an Arabidopsis protein array based on a wheat cell-free system. In total, we identified 38 PKs with Tyr autophosphorylation activity. The CRK family was a major protein family identified. A cell-free substrate screening revealed that these CRKs phosphorylate beta-tubulin (TBB) 2, TBB7 and certain transcription factors (TFs) such as ethylene response factor 13 (ERF13). All five CRKs tested showed Tyr auto/trans-phosphorylation activity and especially two CRKs, CRK2 and CRK3, showed a high ERF13 Tyr phosphorylation activity. A cell-based transient expression assay revealed that Tyr16/207 sites in ERF13 were phosphorylated by CRK3 and that Tyr phosphorylation of endogenous TBBs occurs in CRK2 overexpressing cells. Furthermore, crk2 and crk3 mutants showed a decrease in the Tyr phosphorylation level of TBBs. These results suggest that CRKs have Tyr kinase activity, and these might be one of the major PKs responsible for protein Tyr-phosphorylation in Arabidopsis plants.