Phosphorylated serine- and arginine-rich (SR) proteins are components of the spliceosomal complex, and have been implicated in the control of alternative splicing. Kinases that regulate the phosphorylation and possibly the intranuclear distribution of SR proteins may therefore contribute to changes in choice of splice site. We have cloned three mouse cDNAs with high sequence identity to the family of LAMMER kinases (i.e. kinases carrying the conserved signature EHLAMMERILG in the catalytic domain). A comparison of their amino acid sequences revealed two related subfamilies with high evolutionary conservation. We have compared the expression patterns of these proteins in mouse tissues and transformed cell lines with that of a previously cloned family member (mCLK1/STY), and detected various transcripts for each gene. This underlines previous findings of alternative splicing of mclk1/STY. Our results suggest that the proportions of products for each gene are regulated independently. We further demonstrate that all variants encode autophosphorylating proteins that can phosphorylate several biochemically purified SR proteins in vitro, leading to hyperphosphorylation of at least one SR protein in vivo. The observed tissue distributions and substrate specificities suggest that these kinases may all be constituents of a network of regulatory mechanisms that enable SR proteins to control RNA splicing.

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