A cAMP-specific phosphodiesterase (PDE4D3) is activated in rat thyroid cells by TSH through a cAMP-dependent phosphorylation (Sette, C., Iona, S., and Conti, M. (1994) J. Biol. Chem. 269, 9245-0252). This short term activation may be involved in the termination of the hormonal stimulation and/or in the induction of desensitization. Here, we have further characterized the protein kinase A (PKA)-dependent phosphorylation of this PDE4D3 variant and identified the phosphorylation site involved in the PDE activation. The PKA-dependent incorporation of phosphate in the partially purified, recombinant rat PDE4D3 followed a time course similar to that of activation. Half-maximal activation of the enzyme was obtained with 0.6 μM ATP and 30 nM of the catalytic subunit of PKA. Phosphorylation altered the V(max) of the PDE without affecting the K(m) for cAMP. Phosphorylation also modified the Mg2+ requirements and the pattern of inhibition by rolipram. Cyanogen bromide cleavage of the 32P-labeled rat PDE4D3 yielded two or three major phosphopeptide bands, providing a first indication that the enzyme may be phosphorylated at multiple sites in a cell-free system. Site- directed mutagenesis was performed on the serine residues present at the amino terminus of this PDE in the context of preferred motifs for PKA phosphorylation. The PKA-dependent incorporation of 32P was reduced to the largest extent in mutants with both Ser13 → Ala and Ser54 → Ala substitutions, confirming the presence of more than one phosphorylation site in rat PDE4D3. While substitution of serine 13 with alanine did not affect the activation by PKA, substitution of Ser54 completely suppressed the kinase activation. Similar conclusions were reached with wild type and mutated PDE4D3 proteins expressed in MA-10 cells, where the endogenous PKA was activated by dibutyryl cAMP. Again, the PDE with the Ser54 Ala substitution could not be activated by the endogenous PKA in the intact cell. These findings support the hypothesis that the PDE4D3 variant contains a regulatory domain target for phosphorylation at the amino terminus of the protein and that Ser54 in this domain plays a crucial role in activation.
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