It has previously been demonstrated that calmodulin can be phosphorylated in vitro and in vivo by both tyrosine-specific and serine/threonine protein kinase. We demonstrate here that the insulin receptor tyrosine kinase purified from human placenta phosphorylates calmodulin. The highly purified receptors (prepared by insulin-Sepharose chromatography) were 5-10 times more effective in catalysing the phosphorylation of calmodulin than an equal number of partially purified receptors (prepared by wheat-germ agglutinin-Sepharose chromatography). Phosphorylation occurred exclusively on tyrosine residues, up to a maximum of 1 mol [0.90 +/- 0.14 (n = 5)] of phosphate incorporated/mol of calmodulin. Phosphorylation of calmodulin was dependent on the presence of certain basic proteins and divalent cations. Some of these basic proteins, i.e. polylysine, polyarginine, polyornithine, protamine sulphate and histones H1 and H2B, were also able to stimulate the phosphorylation of calmodulin via an insulin-independent activation of the receptor tyrosine kinase. Addition of insulin further increased incorporation of 32P into calmodulin. The magnitude of the effect of insulin was dependent on the concentration and type of basic protein used, ranging from 0.5- to 9.0-fold stimulation. Maximal phosphorylation of calmodulin was obtained at an insulin concentration of 10(-10) M, with half-maximal effect at 10(-11) M. Either Mg2+ or Mn2+ was necessary to obtain phosphorylation, but Mg2+ was far more effective than Mn2+. In contrast, maximal phosphorylation of calmodulin was observed in the absence of Ca2+. Inhibition of phosphorylation was observed as free Ca2+ concentration exceeded 0.1 microM, with almost complete inhibition at 30 microM free Ca2+. The Km for calmodulin was approx. 0.1 microM. To gain further insight into the effects of basic proteins in this system, we examined the binding of calmodulin to the insulin receptor and the polylysine. Calmodulin binds to the insulin receptor in a Ca2+-dependent manner, whereas it binds to polylysine seemingly by electrostatic interactions. These studies identify calmodulin as a substrate for the highly purified insulin receptor tyrosine kinase of human placenta. They also demonstrate that the basic proteins, which are required for insulin to stimulate the phosphorylation of calmodulin, do so by a direct interaction with calmodulin.

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