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Mol Cell Biol. 1991 February; 11(2): 987–1001.
PMCID: PMC359764

Spk1, a new kinase from Saccharomyces cerevisiae, phosphorylates proteins on serine, threonine, and tyrosine.


A Saccharomyces cerevisiae lambda gt11 library was screened with antiphosphotyrosine antibodies in an attempt to identify a gene encoding a tyrosine kinase. A subclone derived from one positive phage was sequenced and found to contain an 821-amino-acid open reading frame that encodes a protein with homology to protein kinases. We tested the activity of the putative kinase by constructing a vector encoding a glutathione-S-transferase fusion protein containing most of the predicted polypeptide. The fusion protein phosphorylated endogenous substrates and enolase primarily on serine and threonine. The gene was designated SPK1 for serine-protein kinase. Expression of the Spk1 fusion protein in bacteria stimulated serine, threonine, and tyrosine phosphorylation of bacterial proteins. These results, combined with the antiphosphotyrosine immunoreactivity induced by the kinase, indicate that Spk1 is capable of phosphorylating tyrosine as well as phosphorylating serine and threonine. In in vitro assays, the fusion protein kinase phosphorylated the synthetic substrate poly(Glu/Tyr) on tyrosine, but the activity was weak compared with serine and threonine phosphorylation of other substrates. To determine if other serine/threonine kinases would phosphorylate poly(Glu/Tyr), we tested calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II and the catalytic subunit of cyclic AMP-dependent protein kinase. The two kinases had similar tyrosine-phosphorylating activities. These results establish that the functional difference between serine/threonine- and tyrosine-protein kinases is not absolute and suggest that there may be physiological circumstances in which tyrosine phosphorylation is mediated by serine/threonine kinases.

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