Studies with subconfluent day 2 cultures of rat myoblasts revealed that a cell surface 112 kDa protein could be phosphorylated by extracellular ATP. Analysis of the phosphorylated 112 kDa protein suggested the involvement of a serine protein kinase. The following evidence indicated the cell surface location of this protein kinase: (i) extracellular ATP was unable to penetrate the cell membrane under our experimental conditions; (ii) the phosphorylated protein profile of intact cells differed significantly from that of broken cells; (iii) the phosphorylation of the 112 kDa protein could be abolished by pretreatment of cells with very low concentrations of trypsin; (iv) the phosphorylated 112 kDa protein could be dephosphorylated by exogenously added alkaline phosphatase; (v) the phosphorylation of the 112 kDa protein was inhibited by exogenously added proteins; and (vi) exogenously added proteins could be phosphorylated by intact cells under similar experimental conditions. The phosphorylated 112 kDa protein was detected only when the reaction was carried out in the presence of Ca2+, Mg2+, and F- ions. Kinetic analysis that revealed that the Km value of the ecto-protein kinase for ATP was 0.04 microM, and the Vmax. value for phosphorylation of the 112 kDa protein was 1.67 x 10(-4) pmol/min per 10(5) cells. Data presented in the accompanying paper [Chen & Lo (1991) Biochem. J. 279, 475-482] show that there was a constant and adequate supply of ATP on the cell surface of rat myoblasts for efficient functioning of this protein kinase, and that mutants defective in either the ecto-protein kinase or the 112 kDa protein were also impaired in myogenic differentiation. This and other biochemical studies suggest that the ecto-protein kinase and the 112 kDa protein might play important roles in myogenic differentiation.

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