Receptor phosphorylation is a key step in the process of desensitization of the beta-adrenergic and other related receptors. A selective kinase (called beta-adrenergic receptor kinase, beta ARK) has been identified which phosphorylates the agonist-occupied form of the receptor. Recently the bovine beta ARK cDNA has been cloned and the highest levels of specific mRNA were found in highly innervated tissues. It was proposed that beta ARK may be primarily active on synaptic receptors. In the present study, the cDNA of human beta ARK was cloned and sequenced. The sequence was very similar to that of the bovine beta ARK (the overall amino acid homology was 98%). Very high levels of beta ARK mRNA and kinase activity were found in peripheral blood leukocytes and in several myeloid and lymphoid leukemia cell lines. Since agonist-induced beta ARK translocation is considered the first step involved in beta ARK-mediated homologous desensitization, we screened a number of G-protein-coupled receptor agonists for their ability to induce beta ARK translocation. In human mononuclear leukocytes, beta-AR agonist isoproterenol and platelet-activating factor were able to induce translocation of beta ARK from cytosol to membrane. After 20 min of exposure to isoproterenol (10 microM), the cytosolic beta ARK activity decreased to 61% of control, while membrane-associated beta ARK activity increased to 170%. 20-min exposure to platelet-activating factor (1 microM) reduced the cytosolic beta ARK activity to 42% of control with concomitant increase in membrane beta ARK activity to 214% of control. The high levels of beta ARK expression in human peripheral blood leukocytes together with the ability of isoproterenol and platelet-activating factor to induce beta ARK translocation, suggest a role for beta ARK in modulating some receptor-mediated immune functions.
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