Protein kinase C a (PKCα) is a nodal regulator in several intracellular signaling networks. PKCα is composed of modular domains that interact with each other to dynamically regulate spatial-temporal function. We find that PKCα specifically, rapidly and reversibly selfassembles in the presence of calcium in vitro. This phenomenon is dependent on, and can be modulated by an intramolecular interaction between the C1a and C2 protein domains of PKCα. Next, we monitor self-assembly of PKCmCitrine fusion proteins using timeresolved and steady-state homoFRET. HomoFRET between full-length PKCα molecules is observed when in solution with both calcium and liposomes containing either diacylglycerol (DAG) or phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PI(4,5)P2). Surprisingly, the C2 domain is sufficient to cluster on liposomes containing PI(4,5)P2, indicating the C1a domain is not required for self-assembly in this context. We conclude that three distinct clustered states of PKCα can be formed depending on what combination of cofactors are bound, but Ca2+ is minimally required and sufficient for clustering.
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© 2016 Swanson et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.