Caspase-mediated cleavage of the Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase-like kinase facilitates neuronal apoptosis

Publication Type:

Journal Article


J Biol Chem, Volume 276, Number 42, p.38417-38425 (2001)

DOI Name (links to online publication)



Animals; Apoptosis; Asparagine; Aspartic Acid; Binding Sites; Ca(2+)-Calmodulin Dependent Protein Kinase; Calcium; Calmodulin; Caspase 3; Caspase 8; Caspase 9; Caspases; Cell Line; Cells; Cultured; chemistry; Culture Media; Culture Media; Serum-Free; Dna; D


This study was designed to identify the role of a recently identified Ca(2+)/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase (CaMK)-like kinase (CaMKLK) in neuronal apoptosis. For this purpose, we studied proteolytic cleavage of CaMKLK by caspases in vitro and in neuronal NG108 cells. In addition, we have investigated the effect of overexpression of wild type and mutant CaMKLK proteins on staurosporine- and serum deprivation-induced apoptosis of NG108 cells. We found that CaMKLK is a substrate for caspase-3 and -8, both in vitro and in NG108 cells during staurosporine- and serum withdrawal-induced apoptosis. Substitution of an aspartic acid residue at position 62 in an asparagine residue within a putative caspase cleavage site completely blocked cleavage of CaMKLK, strongly indicating that (59)DEND(62) is the caspase recognition site. Overexpression of an Asp(62) --> Asn CaMKLK mutant protected NG108 cells from staurosporine-induced apoptosis to a similar extent as Bcl-x(L). In contrast, overexpression of wild type CaMKLK did not lead to protection. Moreover, microinjection of Asp(62) --> Asn CaMKLK protected NG108 cells from serum deprivation-induced apoptosis, while overexpression of a caspase-generated noncatalytic N-terminal CaMKLK fragment exacerbated apoptosis. Together, our data suggest that cleavage of CaMKLK and generation of the noncatalytic N-terminal domain of CaMKLK facilitate neuronal apoptosis