Highly sequential binding of protein kinase C and related proteins to membranes

Gary L. Nelsestuen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Protein kinase C belongs to a class of proteins that displays simultaneous interaction with calcium and phospholipids. Other members of this class include two proteins (Mr 64K and 32K) isolated from bovine brain. The association of these proteins with membranes exhibited highly unusual properties that were not consistent with a simple equilibrium. Titration of protein-phospholipid binding as a function of calcium showed an apparently normal curve with a low degree of cooperativity. The binding was rapid and quickly adjusted to changes in the calcium concentration. Calcium was readily exchanged from the protein-phospholipid complex. However, at each calcium concentration, membrane-bound protein was not in rapid equilibrium with free protein in solution; the half-time for dissociation exceeded 24 h. Titration of phospholipid vesicles with proteins showed different saturation levels of bound protein at different calcium concentrations. The amount of protein bound was almost entirely determined by the concentration of calcium and was virtually unaffected by the free protein concentration. These properties suggested that protein-phospholipid binding involved a sequence of steps that were each irreversible upon completion. These binding properties were consistent with high-affinity interaction between protein and phospholipid, high cooperativity with respect to calcium (N ≥ 10), clustering of acidic phospholipids, and negative cooperativity with respect to protein density on the membrane. A major apparent problem with the complete titration of PKC-membrane interaction was a requirement for calcium in excess of intracellular levels. However, a highly sequential binding process showed that a number of protein-binding sites on the membrane would be saturated with calcium at physiological levels. The unusual properties of sequential binding may provide other important mechanisms for calcium regulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7970-7977
Number of pages8
Issue number32
StatePublished - 1991


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