Autophosphorylation-dependent protein kinase (auto-kinase) was identified from pig brain and liver on the basis of its unique autophosphorylation/activation property [Yang, Fong, Yu and Liu (1987) J. Biol. Chem. 262, 7034–7040; Yang, Chang and Soderling (1987) J. Biol. Chem. 262, 9421–9427]. Its substrate consensus sequence motif was determined as being -R-X-(X)-S*/T*-X3-S/T-. To characterize auto-kinase further, we partly sequenced the kinase purified from pig liver. The N-terminal sequence (VDGGAKTSDKQKKKAXMTDE) and two internal peptide sequences (EKLRTIV and LQNPEK/ILTP/FI) of auto-kinase were obtained. These sequences identify auto-kinase as a C-terminal catalytic fragment of p21-activated protein kinase 2 (PAK2 or γ-PAK) lacking its N-terminal regulatory region. Auto-kinase can be recognized by an antibody raised against the C-terminal peptide of human PAK2 by immunoblotting. Furthermore the autophosphorylation site sequence of auto-kinase was successfully predicted on the basis of its substrate consensus sequence motif and the known PAK2 sequence, and was further demonstrated to be RST(P)MVGTPYWMAPEVVTR by phosphoamino acid analysis, manual Edman degradation and phosphopeptide mapping via the help of phosphorylation site analysis of a synthetic peptide corresponding to the sequence of PAK2 from residues 396 to 418. During the activation process, auto-kinase autophosphorylates mainly on a single threonine residue Thr402 (according to the sequence numbering of human PAK2). In addition, a phospho-specific antibody against a synthetic phosphopeptide containing this identified sequence was generated and shown to be able to differentially recognize the activated auto-kinase autophosphorylated at Thr402 but not the non-phosphorylated/inactive auto-kinase. Immunoblot analysis with this phospho-specific antibody further revealed that the change in phosphorylation level of Thr402 of auto-kinase was well correlated with the activity change of the kinase during both autophosphorylation/activation and protein phosphatase-mediated dephosphorylation/inactivation processes. Taken together, our results identify Thr402 as the regulatory autophosphorylation site of auto-kinase, which is a C-terminal catalytic fragment of PAK2.

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