Individual isoforms of the protein kinase C (PKC) family of kinases may have assumed distinct responsibilities for the control of complex and diverse cellular functions. In this study, we show that an isoform specific interaction between PKC epsilon and filamentous actin may serve as a necessary prelude to the enhancement of glutamate exocytosis from nerve terminals. Using a combination of cosedimentation, overlay, and direct binding assays, we demonstrate that filamentous actin is a principal anchoring protein for PKC epsilon within intact nerve endings. The unusual stability and direct nature of this physical interaction indicate that actin filaments represent a new class of PKC-binding protein. The binding of PKC epsilon to actin required that the kinase be activated, presumably to expose a cryptic binding site that we have identified and shown to be located between the first and second cysteine-rich regions within the regulatory domain of only this individual isoform of PKC. Arachidonic acid (AA) synergistically interacted with diacylglycerol to stimulate actin binding to PKC epsilon. Once established, this protein-protein interaction securely anchored PKC epsilon to the cytoskeletal matrix while also serving as a chaperone that maintained the kinase in a catalytically active conformation. Thus, actin appears to be a bifunctional anchoring protein that is specific for the PKC epsilon isoform. The assembly of this isoform-specific signaling complex appears to play a primary role in the PKC-dependent facilitation of glutamate exocytosis.

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