eEF2K [eEF2 (eukaryotic elongation factor 2) kinase] phosphorylates and inactivates the translation elongation factor eEF2. eEF2K is not a member of the main eukaryotic protein kinase superfamily, but instead belongs to a small group of so-called α-kinases. The activity of eEF2K is normally dependent upon Ca(2+) and calmodulin. eEF2K has previously been shown to undergo autophosphorylation, the stoichiometry of which suggested the existence of multiple sites. In the present study we have identified several autophosphorylation sites, including Thr(348), Thr(353), Ser(366) and Ser(445), all of which are highly conserved among vertebrate eEF2Ks. We also identified a number of other sites, including Ser(78), a known site of phosphorylation, and others, some of which are less well conserved. None of the sites lies in the catalytic domain, but three affect eEF2K activity. Mutation of Ser(78), Thr(348) and Ser(366) to a non-phosphorylatable alanine residue decreased eEF2K activity. Phosphorylation of Thr(348) was detected by immunoblotting after transfecting wild-type eEF2K into HEK (human embryonic kidney)-293 cells, but not after transfection with a kinase-inactive construct, confirming that this is indeed a site of autophosphorylation. Thr(348) appears to be constitutively autophosphorylated in vitro. Interestingly, other recent data suggest that the corresponding residue in other α-kinases is also autophosphorylated and contributes to the activation of these enzymes [Crawley, Gharaei, Ye, Yang, Raveh, London, Schueler-Furman, Jia and Cote (2011) J. Biol. Chem. 286, 2607-2616]. Ser(366) phosphorylation was also detected in intact cells, but was still observed in the kinase-inactive construct, demonstrating that this site is phosphorylated not only autocatalytically but also in trans by other kinases.
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"Sequence alignments suggest a similar mechanism may apply to eEF2K. eEF2K also undergoes autophosphorylation at additional sites, including Ser445 and, in one report, Ser500 (Pyr Dit Ruys et al., 2012; Tavares et al., 2012). The roles of these sites in the control of eEF2K is less clear than for Thr348, although phosphorylation of Ser500 decreases the dependence of eEF2K on Ca 2þ -ions. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Eukaryotic elongation factor 2 kinase (eEF2K) is a member of the small group of atypical ‘α-kinases’. It phosphorylates and inhibits eukaryotic elongation factor 2, to slow down the elongation stage of protein synthesis, which normally consumes a great deal of energy and amino acids. The activity of eEF2K is normally dependent on calcium ions and calmodulin. eEF2K is also regulated by a plethora of other inputs, including inhibition by signalling downstream of anabolic signalling pathways such as the mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1. Recent data show that eEF2K helps to protect cancer cells against nutrient starvation and is also cytoprotective in other settings, including hypoxia. Growing evidence points to roles for eEF2K in neurological processes such as learning and memory and perhaps in depression.
Full-text · Article · May 2014 · Advances in Biological Regulation
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Eukaryotic elongation factor 2 kinase (eEF-2K) is an atypical protein kinase regulated by Ca(2+) and calmodulin (CaM). Its only known substrate is eukaryotic elongation factor 2 (eEF-2), whose phosphorylation by eEF-2K impedes global protein synthesis. To date, the mechanism of eEF-2K autophosphorylation has not been fully elucidated. To investigate the mechanism of autophosphorylation, human eEF-2K was coexpressed with λ-phosphatase and purified from bacteria in a three-step protocol using a CaM affinity column. Purified eEF-2K was induced to autophosphorylate by incubation with Ca(2+)/CaM in the presence of MgATP. Analyzing tryptic or chymotryptic peptides by mass spectrometry monitored the autophosphorylation over 0-180 min. The following five major autophosphorylation sites were identified: Thr-348, Thr-353, Ser-445, Ser-474, and Ser-500. In the presence of Ca(2+)/CaM, robust phosphorylation of Thr-348 occurs within seconds of addition of MgATP. Mutagenesis studies suggest that phosphorylation of Thr-348 is required for substrate (eEF-2 or a peptide substrate) phosphorylation, but not self-phosphorylation. Phosphorylation of Ser-500 lags behind the phosphorylation of Thr-348 and is associated with the Ca(2+)-independent activity of eEF-2K. Mutation of Ser-500 to Asp, but not Ala, renders eEF-2K Ca(2+)-independent. Surprisingly, this Ca(2+)-independent activity requires the presence of CaM.