PITALRE is a human protein kinase identified by means of its partial sequence identity to the cell division cycle regulatory kinase CDC2. Immunopurified PITALRE protein complexes exhibit an in vitro kinase activity that phosphorylates the retinoblastoma protein, suggesting that PITALRE catalyses this phosphorylation reaction. However, the presence of other kinases in the immunopurified complex could not be ruled out. In the present work, an inactive mutant of the PITALRE kinase has been used to demonstrate that PITALRE is the catalytic subunit responsible for the PITALRE-complex-associated kinase activity. Ectopic overexpression of PITALRE did not increase the total PITALRE kinase activity in the cell, suggesting that PITALRE is regulated by limiting cellular factor(s). Characterization of the PITALRE-containing protein complexes indicated that most of the cellular PITALRE protein exists as a subunit in at least two different active multimeric complexes. Although monomeric PITALRE is also active in vitro, PITALRE present in multimeric complexes exhibits several-fold higher activity than monomeric PITALRE. In addition, overexpression of PITALRE demonstrated the existence of two new associated proteins of approx. 48 and 98 kDa. Altogether these results suggest that, in contrast to the situation with cyclin-dependent kinases, monomeric PITALRE is active, and that association with other proteins modulates its activity and/or its ability to recognize substrates in vivo.

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