A genetically encoded fluorescent reporter reveals oscillatory phosphorylation by protein kinase C

Jonathan D. Violin, Jin Zhang, Roger Y. Tsien, Alexandra C. Newton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

440 Scopus citations


Signals transduced by kinases depend on the extent and duration of substrate phosphorylation. We generated genetically encoded fluorescent reporters for PKC activity that reversibly respond to stimuli activating PKC. Specifically, phosphorylation of the reporter expressed in mammalian cells causes changes in fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET), allowing real time imaging of phosphorylation resulting from PKC activation. Targeting of the reporter to the plasma membrane, where PKC is activated, reveals oscillatory phosphorylation in HeLa cells in response to histamine. Each oscillation in substrate phosphorylation follows a calcium oscillation with a lag of ∼10 s. Novel FRET-based reporters for PKC translocation, phosphoinositide bisphosphate conversion to IP3, and diacylglycerol show that in HeLa cells the oscillatory phosphorylations correlate with Ca2+-controlled translocation of conventional PKC to the membrane without oscillations of PLC activity or diacylglycerol. However, in MDCK cells stimulated with ATE PLC and diacylglycerol fluctuate together with Ca2+ and phosphorylation. Thus, specificity of PKC signaling depends on the local second messenger-controlled equilibrium between kinase and phosphatase activities to result in strict calcium-controlled temporal regulation of substrate phosphorylation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)899-909
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cell Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 9 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Calcium
  • Fluorescence resonance energy transfer
  • Oscillation
  • Phosphatase
  • PKC

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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