Protein phosphorylation is a frequent posttranslational modification regulating cellular processes in eukaryotes. The phosphate content of a protein is determined by the conflicting activities of protein kinases and phosphatases. Protein phosphatases were divided into Ser/Thr and Tyr specific groups, depending on the phosphorylated residue in the substrate molecules. The former group was further classified based on enzymatic criteria (reviewed in Cohen 1989 Ann. Rev. Biochem. 58:453-508). Protein phosphatase 1 (PP1) is inhibited by two heat stable proteins termed inhibitor-1 and -2. Protein phosphatase 2A is inhibited by nanomolar concentration of the tumor promoter okadaic acid. Protein phosphatase 2B (PP2B) - also called calcineurin - is stimulated by Ca-calmodulin, and protein phosphatase 2C (PP2C) is a Mg2+ dependent enzyme. Molecular cloning of the catalytic subunits revealed that PP1-PP2A-PP2B consist of a highly conserved superfamily of proteins.

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