The catalytic domain of serum- and glucocorticoid-induced protein kinase (SGK) is 54% identical with protein kinase B (PKB) and, like PKB, is activated in vitro by 3-phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase-1 (PDK1) and in vivo in response to signals that activate phosphatidylinositol (PI) 3-kinase. Here we identify two novel isoforms of SGK, termed SGK2 and SGK3, whose catalytic domains share 80% amino acid sequence identity with each other and with SGK (renamed SGK1). Like SGK1, the mRNA encoding SGK3 is expressed in all tissues examined, but SGK2 mRNA is only present at significant levels in liver, kidney and pancreas and, at lower levels, in the brain. The levels of SGK2 mRNA in H4IIE cells and SGK3 mRNA in Rat2 fibroblasts are not increased by stimulation with serum or dexamethasone, whereas the level of SGK1 mRNA is increased greatly. SGK2 and SGK3 are activated in vitro by PDK1, albeit more slowly than SGK1, and their activation is accompanied by the phosphorylation of Thr193 and Thr253 respectively, the residues equivalent to the Thr in the ‘activation loop’ of PKB that is targeted by PDK1. The PDK1-catalysed phosphorylation and activation of SGK2 and SGK3, like SGK1, is greatly potentiated by mutating Ser356 and Ser419 respectively to Asp, these residues being equivalent to the C-terminal phosphorylation site of PKB. Like SGK1, SGK2 and SGK3 are activated 5-fold via a phosphorylation mechanism when cells are exposed to H2O2 but, in contrast with SGK1, activation is only suppressed partially by inhibitors of PI 3-kinase. SGK2 and SGK3 are activated to a smaller extent by insulin-like growth factor-1 (2-fold) than SGK1 (5-fold). Like PKB and SGK1, SGK2 and SGK3 preferentially phosphorylate Ser and Thr residues that lie in Arg-Xaa-Arg-Xaa-Xaa-Ser/Thr motifs.

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