Parmer TG, Ward MD, Yurkow EJ, Vyas (Dave) VH, Kearney TJ, Hait WN. Activity and regulation by growth factors of calmodulin-dependent protein kinase III (elongation factor 2-kinase) in human breast cancer. Br J Cancer. 1999 Jan;79(1):59-64. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6690012

Calmodulin-dependent protein kinase III (CaM kinase III, elongation factor-2 kinase) is a unique member of the Ca2+/CaM-dependent protein kinase family. Activation of CaM kinase III leads to the selective phosphorylation of elongation factor 2 (eEF-2) and transient inhibition of protein synthesis. Recent cloning and sequencing of CaM kinase III revealed that this enzyme represents a new superfamily of protein kinases. The activity of CaM kinase III is selectively activated in proliferating cells; inhibition of the kinase blocked cells in G0/G1-S and decreased viability. To determine the significance of CaM kinase III in breast cancer, we measured the activity of the kinase in human breast cancer cell lines as well as in fresh surgical specimens. The specific activity of CaM kinase III in human breast cancer cell lines was equal to or greater than that seen in a variety of cell lines with similar rates of proliferation. The specific activity of CaM kinase III was markedly increased in human breast tumour specimens compared with that of normal adjacent breast tissue. The activity of this enzyme was regulated by breast cancer mitogens. In serum-deprived MDA-MB-231 cells, the combination of insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) and epidermal growth factor (EGF) stimulated cell proliferation and activated CaM kinase III to activities observed in the presence of 10% serum. Inhibition of enzyme activity blocked cell proliferation induced by growth factors. In MCF-7 cells separated by fluorescence-activated cell sorting. CaM kinase III was increased in S-phase over that of other phases of the cell cycle. In summary, the activity of Ca2+/CaM-dependent protein kinase III is controlled by breast cancer mitogens and appears to be constitutively activated in human breast cancer. These results suggest that CaM kinase III may contribute an important link between growth factor/receptor interactions, protein synthesis and the induction of cellular proliferation in human breast cancer.

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