Peutz-Jeghers syndrome (PJS) is an autosomal dominant disease characterized by melanocytic macules, hamartomatous polyps and an increased risk for numerous cancers. The human LKB1 (hLKB1) gene encodes a serine/threonine protein kinase that is deficient in the majority of patients with PJS. The murine LKB1 (mLKB1) cDNA was isolated, sequenced and shown to produce a 2.4-kb transcript encoding a 436 amino acid protein with 90% identity with hLKB1. RNA blot and RNase-protection analysis revealed that mLKB1 mRNA is expressed in all tissues and cell lines examined. The widespread expression of LKB1 transcripts is consistent with the elevated risk of multiple cancer types in PJS patients. The predicted LKB1 protein sequence terminates with a conserved prenylation motif (Cys433-Lys-Gln-Gln436) directly downstream from a consensus cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA) phosphorylation site (Arg428-Arg-Leu-Ser431). The expression of enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP)-mLKB1 chimaeras demonstrated that LKB1 possesses a functional prenylation motif that is capable of targeting EGFP to cellular membranes. Mutation of Cys433 to an alanine residue, but not phosphorylation by PKA, blocked membrane localization. These findings suggest that PKA does phosphorylate LKB1, although this phosphorylation does not alter the cellular localization of LKB1.

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