In the present study, the molecular cloning and characterization of a 49-kDa form of casein kinase (CK)I from Dictyostelium discoideum is reported. The predicted amino acid sequence shares 70% identity with the catalytic domain of the mammalian ∆ and ϵ isoforms, Drosophila CKIϵ and Schizosaccharomyces pombe Hhp1, and 63% identity with Hrr25, a 57-kDa form of yeast CK involved in DNA repair. D. discoideum CKI (DdCKI) was expressed in vegetative asynchronous cells as well as in differentiated cells, as detected by Northern-blot analysis. The level of DdCKI expression did not change during the cell cycle. Antibodies raised against a truncated version of the protein recognized a 49-kDa protein from D. discoideum extracts. Protein expression paralleled the pattern found for the RNA. The expression of DdCKI in Escherichia coli resulted in an active enzyme that autophosphorylated and phosphorylated casein. Immunofluorescence assays showed that DdCKI was localized in the cytoplasm and nuclei of Dictyostelium cells. The lack of disruptants of the CKI gene suggests that this protein is essential for the vegetative growth of D. discoideum. Overexpression of DdCKI resulted in cells with increased resistance to hydroxyurea, suggesting a potential role for this kinase in DNA repair.

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