Calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinases (CaM kinases) are major multifunctional enzymes that play important roles in calcium-mediated signal transduction. To characterize their regulatory mechanisms in neurons, we compared glutamate-induced phosphorylation of CaM kinase IV and CaM kinase II in cultured rat hippocampal neurons. We observed that dephosphorylation of these kinases followed different time courses, suggesting different regulatory mechanisms for each kinase. Okadaic acid, an inhibitor of protein phosphatase (PP) 1 and PP2A, increased the phosphorylation of both kinases. In contrast, cyclosporin A, an inhibitor of calcineurin, showed different effects: the phosphorylation and activity of CaM kinase IV were significantly increased with this inhibitor, but those of CaM kinase II were not significantly increased. Cyclosporin A treatment of neurons increased phosphorylation of Thr196 of CaM kinase IV, the activated form with CaM kinase kinase, which was recognized with an anti-phospho-Thr196 antibody. Moreover, recombinant CaM kinase IV was dephosphorylated and inactivated with calcineurin as well as with PP1, PP2A, and PP2C in vitro. These results suggest that CaM kinase IV, but not CaM kinase II, is directly regulated with calcineurin.
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