Phosphorylation of nuclear and DNA-binding proteins in proliferating and quiescent mammalian cells.

E. W. Gerner, M. Costa, D. K. Holmes, B. E. Magun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The dependence of cell proliferation on nuclear protein phosphorylation was studied with exponential-phase and stationary-phase cultures of Chinese-hamster ovary cells. Nuclear proteins were fractionated, according to their DNA-binding affinities, by using sequential extractions of isolated nuclei with increasing concentrations of NaCl. When viable whole cells were labelled with H332PO4, phosphorylation of nuclear proteins was found to be lower in quiescent cells than in proliferating cells. Phosphorylation of nuclear proteins soluble in 0.30M-NaCl (less than 50% of these proteins bind to DNA) was greater than for those proteins soluble in higher salt concentrations (80-100% of these proteins bind to DNA). Cyclic AMP enhanced the phosphorylation of nuclear proteins soluble in 0.3 m-NaCl by 40-50%, and this stimulation was independent of cell growth. Cyclic AMP also increased the phosphorylation of nuclear proteins soluble in 0.6M-NaCl and 2.0M-NaCl by 40-50% in exponential-phase cultures, but not in stationary-phase cultures. Several examples of specific phosphorylation in response to cyclic AMP were observed, including a 35000-mol.wt. protein in the 0.30 M-NaCl-soluble fraction and several proteins larger than 100000 molecular weight within this fraction. A major peptide of molecular weight approx. 31000 extracted with 0.6M-NaCl was also phosphorylated. Its phosphorylation was independent of cyclic AMP in exponential-phase cultures, and it was not phosphorylated in plateau-phase cells. These changes in cell-growth-dependent phosphorylation occurred in the absence of any apparent qualitative changes in the nuclear protein molecular-weight distributions. These data demonstrate that (1) phosphorylation of nuclear proteins is dependent on the culture's proliferative status, (2) both cyclic AMP-dependent and cyclic AMP-independent specific phosphorylation occurs, and (3) the cyclic AMP-dependent growth-independent phosphorylation that occurs does not appear to be a modification of DNA-binding proteins, whereas the cyclic AMP-dependent growth-dependent phosphorylation does involve modification of DNA binding proteins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-207
Number of pages15
JournalThe Biochemical journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 15 1981
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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