The Pim family of Ser/Thr kinases has been implicated in the process of lymphomagenesis and cell survival. Known substrates of Pim kinases are few and poorly characterized. In this study we set out to identify novel Pim-2 substrates using the Kinase Substrate Tracking and Elucidation (KESTREL) approach. Two potential substrates, eukaryotic initiation factor 4B (eIF4B) and apoptosis inhibitor 5 (API-5), were identified from rat thymus extracts. Sequence comparison of the Pim-2 kinase phosphorylation sites of eIF4B and mouse BAD, the only other known Pim-2 substrate, revealed conserved amino acids preceding the phosphorylated serine residue. Stepwise replacement of the conserved residues produced a consensus sequence for Pim kinase recognition: RXRHXS. Pim-1 and Pim-2 catalyzed the phosphorylation of this recognition sequence 20-fold more efficiently than the original (K/R-K/R-R-K/R-L-S/T-a; a = small chain amino acid) Pim-1 phosphorylation site. The identification of the novel Pim kinase consensus sequence provides a more sensitive and versatile peptide based assay for screening modulators of Pim kinase activity.

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