Calcium is an important second messenger in eukaryotic cells. Many of the effects of calcium are mediated via its interaction with calmodulin and the subsequent activation of Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent (CaM) kinases. CaM kinases are involved in a wide variety of cellular processes including muscle contraction, neurotransmitter release, cell cycle control, and transcriptional regulation. While CaMKII has been implicated in learning and memory, the biological role of the other multifunctional CAM kinases, CaMKI and CaMKIV, is largely unknown. In the course of a degenerate RT-PCR protein kinase screen, we identified a novel serine/threonine kinase, Pnck. In this report, we describe the cloning, chromosomal localization, and expression of Pnck, which encodes a 38-kDa protein kinase whose catalytic domain shares 45-70% identity with members of the CAM kinase family. The gene for Pnck localizes to mouse chromosome X, in a region of conserved synteny with human chromosome Xq28 that is associated with multiple distinct mental retardation syndromes. Pnck is upregulated during intermediate and late stages of murine fetal development with highest levels of expression in developing brain, bone, and gut. Pnck is also expressed in a tissue-specific manner in adult mice with highest levels of expression detected in brain, uterus, ovary, and testis. Interestingly, Pnck expression in these tissues is restricted to particular compartments and appears to be further restricted to subsets of cells within those compartments. The chromosomal localization of Pnck, along with its tissue-specific and restricted pattern of spatial expression during development, suggests that Pnck may be involved in a variety of developmental processes including development of the central nervous system. (C) 2000 Academic Press.
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