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Lack of Csk-Mediated Negative Regulation in a Unicellular Src Kinase

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journal contribution
posted on 16.10.2012, 00:00 by Kira P. Schultheiss, Hiroshi Suga, Iñaki Ruiz-Trillo, W. Todd Miller
Phosphotyrosine-based signaling plays a vital role in cellular communication in multicellular organisms. Unexpectedly, unicellular choanoflagellates (the closest phylogenetic group to metazoans) possess numbers of tyrosine kinases that are comparable to those in complex metazoans. Here, we have characterized tyrosine kinases from the filasterean Capsaspora owczarzaki, a unicellular protist representing the sister group to choanoflagellates and metazoans. Two Src-like tyrosine kinases have been identified in C. owczarzaki (CoSrc1 and CoSrc2), both of which have the arrangement of SH3, SH2, and catalytic domains seen in mammalian Src kinases. In Capsaspora cells, CoSrc1 and CoSrc2 localize to punctate structures in filopodia that may represent primordial focal adhesions. We have cloned, expressed, and purified both enzymes. CoSrc1 and CoSrc2 are active tyrosine kinases. Mammalian Src kinases are normally regulated in a reciprocal fashion by autophosphorylation in the activation loop (which increases activity) and by Csk-mediated phosphorylation of the C-terminal tail (which inhibits activity). Similar to mammalian Src kinases, the enzymatic activities of CoSrc1 and CoSrc2 are increased by autophosphorylation in the activation loop. We have identified a Csk-like kinase (CoCsk) in the genome of C. owczarzaki. We cloned, expressed, and purified CoCsk and found that it has no measurable tyrosine kinase activity. Furthermore, CoCsk does not phosphorylate or regulate CoSrc1 or CoSrc2 in cells or in vitro, and CoSrc1 and CoSrc2 are active in Capsaspora cell lysates. Thus, the function of Csk as a negative regulator of Src family kinases appears to have arisen with the emergence of metazoans.