The protein kinase D (PKD) family comprises multifunctional serine/threonine-specific protein kinases with three mammalian isoforms: PKD1, PKD2 and PKD3. A prominent PKD function is the regulation of basolateral-targeted transport carrier fission from the trans-Golgi network (TGN). To visualize site-specific PKD activation at this organelle, we designed a molecular reporter consisting of a PKD-specific substrate sequence fused to enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP), specifically targeted to the TGN via the p230 GRIP domain. Quantitative analyses using a phosphospecific antibody and ratiometric fluorescence imaging revealed that Golgi-specific phosphorylation of the reporter was strictly dependent on stimulation of endogenous PKD or transient expression of active PKD constructs. Conversely, PKD-specific pharmacological inhibitors and siRNA-mediated PKD knockdown suppressed reporter phosphorylation. Using this reporter we investigated a potential role for PKD in the regulation of Golgi complex morphology. Interestingly, nocodazole-induced Golgi complex break-up and dispersal was associated with local PKD activation as measured by reporter phosphorylation and this was efficiently blocked by expression of a dominant-negative PKD mutant or PKD depletion. Our data thus identify a novel link between PKD activity and the microtubule cytoskeleton, whereby Golgi complex integrity is regulated.

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