The aim of this study was to identify in rat hepatocytes cellular polypeptides that bind protein kinase C (PKC) and may influence its activity and its compartmentation. At least seven proteins, with apparent M(r) values between 12,000 and 36,000, that behave like Receptors for Activated C-Kinase (RACKs) were found in the Triton-X-100-insoluble fraction of these cells; i.e. PKC bound to these polypeptides when it was in its active form. RACKS seem to be PKC substrates. Studies using isotype-specific PKC antibodies suggested some selectivity of RACKs, i.e. RACKs in the M(r) approximately 28,000-36,000 region bound PKC-alpha and PKC-beta in the presence of phosphatidylserine, diolein and Ca2+, whereas those of M(r) approximately 12,000-14,000 bound all isoforms studied, and, in contrast with the other RACKs, they did this even in the absence of Ca2+. Peptide I (KGDYEKILVALCGGN), which has a sequence suggested to be involved in the PKC-RACKs interaction [Mochly-Rosen, Khaner, Lopez and Smith (1991) J. Biol. Chem. 266, 14866-14868], inhibited PKC activity. Preincubation of RACKs with antisera directed against peptide I prevented PKC binding to them. The data suggest that peptide I blocks PKC binding to RACKs by two mechanisms: inhibition of PKC activity and competition with a putative binding site.

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