US 20020142429 A1
A new superfamily of protein kinases has been discovered that centers around eukaryotic elongation factor-2 kinase (eEF-2 kinase). The protein kinases of this new superfamily have the following characteristics: 1) sequence similarity to eEF-2 kinase; 2) no sequence similarity to the protein kinases of either the serine/threonine/tyrosine kinase or histidine kinase superfamily; and, 3) specifically phosphorylates α-helical regions of proteins as opposed to β-turns, as seen in all other protein kinases. Assays have been developed utilizing eEF-2 kinase and a phosphorylation target consisting of a novel α-helical 16-amino acid peptide sequence to facilitate high-throughput screening for compounds that can specifically inhibit this protein kinase that has been implicated tumor growth and other hyperproliferitive disorders. Additionally, the disclosed invention includes assessing eEF-2 kinase levels for diagnostic purposes, and therapeutic formulations to inhibit eEF-2 kinase activity.
1. A protein kinase which is a member of a superfamily, said protein kinase being characterized by:
A. greater than 40% sequence similarity with eEF-2 kinase from any organism; and.
B. phosphorylates an amino acid within an alpha helical domain of its target protein.
2. A protein kinase of
3. A protein kinase of
4. A protein kinase of
5. A peptide sequence having SEQ ID NO: 20.
6. A protein kinase of
7. A protein kinase of
8. A protein kinase of
9. A protein kinase of
10. An antibody to the protein kinase of
11. An antibody to the phosphorylated form of the target protein of
12. An antibody to the phosphorylated form of the peptide of
13. The antibody of
14. The antibody of
15. An immortal cell line that produces a monoclonal antibody according to
16. The antibody of
17. The antibody of
18. A DNA sequence which encodes eEF-2 kinase, or a fragment thereof, selected from the group consisting of:
(A) the DNA sequences of FIG. 5 (SEQ ID NO: 1);
(B) the DNA sequences of FIG. 5 (SEQ ID NO: 3);
(C) the DNA sequences of FIG. 5 (SEQ ID NO: 9);
(D) DNA sequences that hybridize to any of the foregoing DNA sequences under standard hybridization conditions;
(E) DNA sequences that code for expression of an amino acid sequence encoded by any of the foregoing DNA sequences.
(F) degenerate variants thereof;
(G) alleles thereof; and,
(H) hybridizable fragments thereof.
19. A recombinant DNA molecule comprising a DNA sequence which encodes eEF-2 kinase, or a fragment thereof, selected from the group consisting of:
(A) the DNA sequences of FIG. 5 (SEQ ID NO: 1);
(B) the DNA sequences of FIG. 5 (SEQ ID NO: 3);
(C) the DNA sequences of FIG. 5 (SEQ ID NO: 9);
(D) DNA sequences that hybridize to any of the foregoing DNA sequences under standard hybridization conditions;
(E) DNA sequences that code for expression of an amino acid sequence encoded by any of the foregoing DNA sequences.
(F) degenerate variants thereof;
(G) alleles thereof; and,
(H) hybridizable fragments thereof.
20. The recombinant DNA molecule of either of claims 18 or 19, wherein said DNA sequence is operatively linked to an expression control sequence.
21. The recombinant DNA molecule of
22. A probe capable of screening for eEF-2 kinase in alternate species prepared from the DNA sequence of
23. A probe capable of screening for members of the protein kinase superfamily of
24. A unicellular host transformed with a recombinant DNA molecule comprising a DNA sequence or degenerate variant thereof, which encodes a protein kinase, or a fragment thereof, selected from the group consisting of:
(A) the DNA sequences of FIG. 5 (SEQ ID NO: 1);
(B) the DNA sequences of FIG. 5 (SEQ ID NO: 3);
(C) the DNA sequences of FIG. 5 (SEQ ID NO: 9);
(D) DNA sequences that hybridize to any of the foregoing DNA sequences under standard hybridization conditions; and
(E) DNA sequences that code on expression for an amino acid sequence encoded by any of the foregoing DNA sequences;
wherein said DNA sequence is operatively linked to an expression control sequence.
25. The unicellular host of
26. A method for detecting eEF-2 kinase and assessing eEF-2 kinase levels by:
A. contacting a biological sample from a mammal in which the presence or activity of said eEF-2 kinase is suspected with a binding partner of said eEF-2 kinase under conditions that allow binding of said eEF-2 kinase to said binding partner to occur; and,
B. detecting whether binding has occurred, and to what degree, between said eEF-2 kinase from said sample and the binding partner;
wherein the detection of binding indicates that presence or activity of said eEF-2 kinase in said sample, and indicates a level of said eEF-2 kinase in the sample.
27. An assay system for screening drugs and other agents for ability to modulate eEF-2 kinase activity. comprising a predetermined amount of eEF-2 kinase mixed with varying amounts of drug or agent, along with target protein and ATP; wherein detection is via either a detectable label on the γ-phosphate of ATP, or on an antibody directed against the phosphorylated target protein.
28. The assay system of
D. a biotinylated phosphate moiety; or,
E. a fluorescent phosphate moiety.
29. The assay system of
A. an enzyme detectable with calorimetric, fluorescent, or chemiluminescent substrates, such as alkaline phosphatase or horseradish peroxidase;
B. a biotin moiety;
C. a fluorescent moiety; or,
D. a radioactive moiety chosen from the following group of isotopes: 3H, 14C, 32P, 33P, 35S, 36Cl, 51Cr, 57Co, 58Co, 59Fe, 90Y, 125I, 131I, and 186Re.
30. An assay system for screening drugs and other agents for ability to modulate eEF-2 kinase activity, comprising:
A. culturing an observable cellular test colony inoculated with a drug or agent;
B. harvesting a supernatant from said cellular test colony; and,
C. examining said supernatant for the presence of said eEF-2 kinase activity wherein an increase or a decrease in a level of said eEF-2 kinase activity indicates the ability of a drug to modulate the activity of said eEF-2 kinase.
31. A test kit for assessing the level of eEF-2 kinase activity in a eukaryotic cellular sample, comprising:
A. a predetermined amount of a detectably labelled specific binding partner of eEF-2 kinase.
B. other reagents; and,
C. directions for use of said kit.
31. The test kit of
32. A method of preventing and/or treating cellular debilitations, derangements and/or dysfunctions and/or other disease states in mammals, comprising administering to a mammal a therapeutically effective amount of a material selected from the following group:
A. peptides that inhibit eEF-2 kinase;
B. antibodies against eEF-2 kinase; and,
C. other drugs or agents that specifically inhibit eEF-2 kinase.
33. A pharmaceutical composition for the treatment of cellular debilitation, derangement and/or dysfunction in mammals, comprising:
A. a therapeutically effective amount of a material selected from the group consisting of: peptides that inhibit eEF-2 kinase; antibodies against eEF-2 kinase; and, other drugs or agents that specifically inhibit eEF-2 kinase; and,
B. a pharmaceutically acceptable carrier.
34. A recombinant virus transformed with the DNA molecule, or a derivative or fragment thereof, in accordance with
35. A recombinant virus transformed with the DNA molecule, or a derivative or fragment thereof, in accordance with
36. The recombinant DNA molecule of
37. An antisense nucleic acid against eEF-2 kinase mRNA comprising a nucleic acid sequence hybridizing to said mRNA.
38. The antisense nucleic acid of
39. The antisense nucleic acid of
40. The antisense nucleic acid of
41. A recombinant DNA molecule having a DNA sequence which, on transcription, produces an antisense ribonucleic acid against eEF-2 kinase mRNA, said antisense ribonucleic acid comprising an nucleic acid sequence capable of hybridizing to said mRNA.
42. A eEF-2 kinase-producing cell line transfected with the recombinant DNA molecule of
43. A method for creating a cell line which exhibits reduced expression of eEF-kinase, comprising transfecting a eEF-2 kinase-producing cell line with a recombinant DNA molecule of
44. A ribozyme that cleaves eEF-2 kinase mRNA.
45. The ribozyme of
46. The ribozyme of
47. A recombinant DNA molecule having a DNA sequence which, upon transcription, produces the ribozyme of
48. A eEF-2 kinase-producing cell line transfected with the recombinant DNA molecule of
49. A method for creating a cell line which exhibits reduced expression of eEF-2 kinase, comprising transfecting a eEF-2 kinase-producing cell line with the recombinant DNA molecule of claim 44.
 This invention relates generally to the identification of a new superfamily of eukaryotic protein kinases and the use of one member of this superfamily, elongation factor-2 kinase (eEF-2 kinase), in assays to screen for specific inhibitors. Specific inhibitors of the eEF-2 kinase may be potent therapeutics for amelioration of malignant transformation. Additionally, sequences complementary to eEF-2 kinase may have therapeutic efficacy as antisense drugs or be used in gene therapy. Specifically, the invention relates to assays developed using the recombinant eEF-2 kinase to screen for inhibitors of phosphorylation of a peptide derived from the myosin heavy chain (MHC) protein.
 Protein phosphorylation plays a critical role in many cellular processes (Krebs (1994) Trends Biochem. Sci. 19:439; Hanks and Hunter, (1996) FASEB J. 9:576-596; Hardie and Hanks, (1995) The Protein Kinase Facts Book (Academic, London)). There are two well-characterized superfamilies of protein kinases, with most of the protein kinases belonging to the serine/threonine/tyrosine kinase superfamily (Hanks and Hunter, (1996); Hardie and Hanks, (1995)). The characterization of several hundred members of this superfamily revealed that they all share a similar structural organization of their catalytic domains which consist of twelve conserved subdomains (Hanks and Hunter, (1996); Hardie and Hanks, (1995)). The other superfamily is referred to as the histidine kinase superfamily and is involved in the prokaryotic two-component signal transduction system, acting as sensor components (Stock et al., (1989) Microbiol. Rev. 53:450-490; Parkinson and Kofoid, (1992) Annu. Rev. Genet. 26:71-112; Swanson, et al., (1994) Trends Biochem. Sci. 19:485-490). Recently, eukaryotic members of this superfamily have also been described (Chang et al., (1993) Science 263:539-544; Ota and Varshavsky, (1993) Science 262:566-569; Maeda et al., (1994) Nature 369:242-245). Mitochondrial protein kinases have also recently been described that show structural homology to the histidine kinases, but phosphorylate their substrates on serine (Popov et al., (1992) J. Biol. Chem. 267:13127-13130; Popov et al., (1993) J. Biol. Chem. 268:26602-22606). Finally, several new protein kinases have been reported that show a lack of homology with either of the kinase superfamilies (Maru and Witte, (1991) Cell 67:459-468; Beeler et al., (1994) Mol. Cell. Biol. 14:982-988; Dikstein et al., (1996) Cell 84:781-790; Futey et al., (1995) J. Biol. Chem. 270:523-529; Eichenger et al., (1996) EMBO J. 15:5547-5556). However, these protein kinases are viewed as an exception to the general rule as they have yet to be fully characterized.
 The cloning and sequencing of the extensively characterized eukaryotic elongation factor-2 kinase (eEF-2 kinase) from a variety of eukaryotic organisms has now revealed the existence of a novel class of protein kinases (Ryazanov et al., (1997) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., USA 94:4884-4889). eEF-2 kinase, previously known as Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase III, is highly specific for phosphorylation of elongation factor-2 (eEF-2), an abundant cytoplasmic protein that catalyzes the movement of the ribosome along mRNA during translation in eukaryotic cells (reviewed in Ryazanov and Spirin, (1993) In Translational Regulation of Gene Expression (Plenum, New York) Vol. 2, pp. 433-455; Nairn and Palfrey, (1996) In Translational Control (CSHL Press, New York) pp. 295-318). All mammalian tissues, and various invertebrate organisms, exhibit eEF-2 kinase activity (Abdelmajid et al., (1993) Int. J. Dev. Biol. 37:279-290). eEF-2 kinase catalyzes the phosphorylation of eEF-2 at two highly conserved threonine residues located within a GTP-binding domain (Ryazanov and Spirin, (1993) In Translational Regulation of Gene Expression (Plenum, New York) Vol. 2, pp. 433-455; Nairn and Palfrey, (1996) In Translational Control (CSHL Press, New York) pp. 295-318). When eEF-2 is phosphorylated, it becomes inactive with respect to protein synthesis (Ryazanov et al., (1988) Nature 334:170-173). Since eEF-2 phosphorylation is dependent on Ca2+ and calmodulin, eEF-2 kinase plays a pivotal role in modulating the protein synthesis rate in response to changes in intracellular calcium concentration. Phosphorylation of eEF-2 has also been linked to the regulation of cell cycle progression. For example, transient phosphorylation of eEF-2 occurs during the mitogenic stimulation of quiescent cells (Palfrey et al., (1987) J. Biol. Chem. 262:9785-9792) and during mitosis (Celis et al., (1990) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., USA 87:4231-4235). In addition, changes in the level of eEF-2 kinase activity is associated with a host of cellular processes such as cellular differentiation (End et al., (1982) J. Biol. Chem. 257:9223-9225; Koizumi et al., (1989) FEBS Lett. 253:55-58; Brady et al., (1990) J. Neurochem. 54:1034-1039), oogenesis (Severinov et al., (1990) New Biol. 2: 887-893), and malignant transformation (Bagaglio et al., (1993) Cancer Res. 53:2260-2264).
 The sequence eEF-2 kinase appears to have no homology to either the Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinases or to any members of the known protein kinase superfamilies (Ryazanov et al., (1997) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., USA 94:4884-4889). However, the recently described myosin heavy chain kinase A (MHCK A) from Dictyostelium (Futey et al., (1995) J. Biol. Chem. 270:523-529) shows a great deal of homology with eEF-2 kinase. These two kinases define a novel class of protein kinases that may represent a new superfamily.
 Evidence for MHCK and eEF-2 kinase forming the core of a new superfamily is as follows. MHCK A from Diclyostelium, has a demonstrated role in the regulation of myosin assembly (Futey et al., (1995) J. Biol. Chem. 270:523-529; Côté et al., (1997) J. Biol. Chem. 272:6846-6849). eEF-2 kinase is a ubiquitous Ca2+/calmodulin-dependant protein kinase involved in the regulation of protein synthesis by Ca2+ (Redpath et al., (1996) J. Biol. Chem 271:17547-17554; Ryazanov et al., (1997) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., USA 94:4884-4889). Both MHCK A and eEF-2 kinase display no homology to any of the known protein kinases, but are strikingly similar to each other; amino acid sequences of their catalytic domains are 40% identical. Another protein kinase homologous to MHCK A and eEF-2 kinase has recently been identified in Dictyostelium (Clancy et al., (1997) J. Biol. Chem. 272:11812-11815), and an expressed sequence tag (EST) sequence, with a high degree of similarity to the catalytic domain common to both MHCK A and eEF-2 kinase, has been deposited in GenBank (clone FC-AN09/accession #C22986). An amino acid sequence alignment of the catalytic domains of these new protein kinases is shown in FIG. 1A. These kinases have a catalytic domain of approximately 200 amino acids which can be subdivided into seven conserved subdomains. Subdomains V, VI, and VII have a predicted β-sheet structure and are presumably involved in ATP-binding, while subdomains I through IV may be involved in substrate binding and catalysis. These new protein kinases have no homology to the members of the eukaryotic serine/threonineltyrosine protein kinase superfamily with the exception of the GXGXXG motif in subdomain VI which is present in many ATP-binding proteins. Thus, MHCK A, eEF-2 kinase, and related protein kinases may represent a new superfamily. Evolutionary analysis of these new kinases (FIG. 1B) reveals that they can be subdivided into 2 families: the eEF-2 kinase family which includes eEF-2 kinases from different organisms, and the MHCK family which includes MHCK A, MHCK B and FC-AN09. These two families appear to have split more than a billion years ago.
 An interesting question is why does nature employ these unusual kinases to phosphorylate eEF-2 and myosin heavy chains? Perhaps the answer is related to the secondary structure of the phosphorylation sites. As was originally reported by Small et al. (Small et al., (1977), Biochim. Biophys. Res. Comm. 79:341-346), phosphorylation sites are usually located at predicted β-turns. Subsequent studies, including X-ray crystallographic data, demonstrated that phosphoacceptor sites in substrates of conventional protein kinases are often located in turns or loops and usually have flexible extended conformation (Knighton et al., (1991) Science 253:414-420; Pinna and Ruzzene (1996) Biochim. Biophys. Acta 1314:191-225). In contrast to this, the existing evidence suggests that the peptides around phosphorylation sites for eEF-2 kinases and MHCK A have an α-helical conformation. The two major phosphorylation sites for MHCK A are located in a region which has a coiled-coil α-helical structure (Vaillancourt et al., (1988) J. Biol. Chem. 253:10082-10087). The major phosphorylation site in eEF-2, threonine 56, is located within a sequence which is homologous among all translational elongation factors. In the crystal structure of the prokaryotic elongation factor EF-Tu, this sequence has an α-helical conformation (Polekhina et al., (1996) Structure 4:1141-1151; Abel et al., (1996) Structure 4:1153-1159). These facts suggest that eEF-2 kinase and MHCK A differ from conventional protein kinases in that they phosphorylate amino acids located within α-helices.
 Thus, in addition to the two well-characterized superfamily of eukaryotic protein kinases, which phosphorylate amino acids located in loops and turns, there appears to be a third superfamily of α-helix-directed kinases.
 Novel protein kinase inhibitors have the potential to form the basis for pharmaceutical compositions that can ameliorate malignant transformation. In order to find these inhibitors, libraries of chemical compounds are routinely screened using an automated protein kinase assay. The drawback to this approach is that most protein kinases have a very similar structure, thus making it difficult to specific inhibitors which act solely on a particular protein kinase. We have recently determined the primary structure of eEF-2 kinase, a ubiquitous enzyme which is involved in the regulation of protein synthesis and the cell cycle. Unexpectedly, we found that eEF-2 kinase has a unique structure. It has no homology to any other mammalian protein kinase. This feature makes eEF-2 kinase an ideal target in the search for a specific protein kinase inhibitor. Since preliminary evidence suggests that eEF-2 kinase is upregulated in human cancers (data not shown), including, but not limited to, breast cancer, identification of specific inhibitors of eEF-2 kinase can eventually lead to the development of novel anticancer drugs. In order be able to perform a high throughput screen for an eEF-2 kinase inhibitor, it is first necessary to develop a simple assay which is amenable to automation. The existing assay involves incubation of partially purified eEF-2 kinase along with purified eEF-2 and [γ-32P]ATP as substrates in the presence of increasing concentrations of candidate inhibitors. Results are then obtained by electrophoretic separation of the reaction mixtures, followed by autoradiography. Results are then quantified by either densitometry or scintillation counting of excised bands from the gel containing 32P-eEF-2. Clearly, this assay, as it stands, is time-consuming, expensive, and not amenable to automation. Furthermore, it is difficult to purify large amounts of native eEF-2 required to perform multiple assays, and attempts to overexpress a recombinant form of eEF-2 were unsuccessful as its overexpression was toxic to host strains (personal communication from James Bodley, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis). Therefore, we have developed new methodologies for determining eEF-2 kinase activity, which involves the use of a specific peptide substrate; easily and economically manufactured in large scale. These methods are relatively inexpensive, fast, and can be fully automated.
 In our first attempt to use a peptide as an eEF-2 kinase substrate, we generated peptides centered around the phosphorylation site of eEF-2. This strategy did not yield a peptide that was functional in phosphorylation assays (data not shown). Surprisingly, we found that a 16′mer peptide (RKKFGESEKTKTKEFL (SEQ ID NO: 20)), based on the phosphorylation site of Dictyostelium discoideum MHC, was an acceptable substrate for use with eEF-2 kinase in phosphorylation assays. It is interesting to note that while eEF-2 kinase can phosphorylate a peptide derived from MHC, it is not able to phosphorylate native MHC (Ryazanov et al., (1997) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., USA 94:4884-4889).
 In accordance with the present invention, a new superfamily of protein kinases and corresponding methods for assaying their phosphorylation activity are disclosed. The protein kinases of this new superfamily have the following characteristics: 1) No significant sequence homology to protein kinases of either the serine/threonine/tyrosine kinase or histidine kinase super families; 2) moderate to high (≧40%) to eEF-2 kinases from any organism; and, 3) phosphorylates an amino acid within an α-helical domain.
 The present invention also relates to a recombinant DNA molecule or cloned gene, or a degenerate variant thereof, which encodes eEF-2 kinase; preferably a nucleic acid molecule, in particular a recombinant DNA molecule or cloned gene, encoding the eEF-2 kinase has a nucleotide sequence or is complementary to a DNA sequence shown in FIG. 5 (SEQ ID NO: 1, 3, and 9).
 The human and murine DNA sequences of the eEF-2 kinase gene of the present invention or portions thereof, may be prepared as probes to screen for complementary sequences and genomic clones in the same or alternate species. The present invention extends to probes so prepared that may be provided for screening cDNA and genomic libraries for the eEF-2 kinase gene. For example, the probes may be prepared with a variety of known vectors, such as the phage A vector. The present invention also includes the preparation of plasmids including such vectors, and the use of the DNA sequences to construct vectors expressing antisense RNA or ribozymes which would attack the mRNAs of any or all of the DNA sequences set forth in FIGS. 5 (SEQ ID NO: 1, 3, and 9). Correspondingly, the preparation of antisense RNA and ribozymes are included herein.
 The present invention also includes eEF-2 kinase proteins having the activities noted herein, and that display the amino acid sequences set forth and described above and selected from SEQ ID NO: 2, 4, and 10.
 In a further embodiment of the invention, the full DNA sequence of the recombinant DNA molecule or cloned gene so determined may be operatively linked to an expression control sequence which may be introduced into an appropriate host. The invention accordingly extends to unicellular hosts transformed with the cloned gene or recombinant DNA molecule comprising a DNA sequence encoding eEF-2 kinase, and more particularly, the complete DNA sequence determined from the sequences set forth above and in SEQ ID NO: 1, 3, and 9.
 According to other preferred features of certain preferred embodiments of the present invention, a recombinant expression system is provided to produce biologically active animal or human eEF-2 kinase.
 The present invention naturally contemplates several means for preparation of eEF-2 kinase, including as illustrated herein known recombinant techniques, and the invention is accordingly intended to cover such synthetic preparations within its scope. The isolation of the cDNA and amino acid sequences disclosed herein facilitates the production of eEF-2 kinase by such recombinant techniques, and accordingly, the invention extends to expression vectors prepared from the disclosed DNA sequences for expression in host systems by recombinant DNA techniques, and to the resulting transformed hosts.
 The invention includes an assay system for screening of potential drugs effective at attenuating eEF-2 kinase activity of target mammalian cells by interrupting or potentiating the phosphorylation of eEF-2. In one instance, the test drug could be administered to a cellular sample along with ATP carrying a detectable label on its γ-phosphate that gets transferred to eEF-2, or a peptide substrate, by eEF-2 kinase. Quantification of the labeled eEF-2 or peptide substrate is diagnostic of the candidate drug's efficacy. A further embodiment would provide for the assay to be performed using a purely in vitro system comprised of eEF-2 kinase, ATP or labeled ATP, eEF-2 or peptide analog of a portion of eEF-2 or MHC, appropriate buffer, and detection reagents and/or instrumentation to detect and quantify the extent of eEF-2 kinase-directed phosphorylation activity.
 The assay system could more importantly be adapted to identify drugs or other entities that are capable of binding to the eEF-2 kinase and/or its cognate phosphorylation target (e.g. eEF-2), either in the cytoplasm or in the nucleus, thereby inhibiting or potentiating eEF-2 kinase activity and its resultant phenotypic outcome. Such an assay would be useful in the development of drugs that would be specific against particular cellular activity, or that would potentiate such activity, in time or in level of activity. For example, such drugs might be used to treat various carcinomas or other hyperproliferitive pathologies.
 The present invention likewise extends to antibodies against specifically phosphorylated eEF-2 kinase targets (e.g. eEF-2 or peptide), including naturally raised and recombinantly prepared antibodies. These antibodies and there labeled counterparts are included within the scope of the present invention for their particular ability in detecting eEF-2 kinase activity via detection of the phosphorylated product by ELISA or any other immunoassay known to the skilled artisan.
 In the instance where a radioactive label, such as the isotopes 3H, 14C, 32P, 33P, 35S, 36Cl, 51Cr, 57Co, 58Co, 59Fe, 90Y, 125I, 131I, and 186Re are used, known currently available counting procedures may be utilized. In the instance where the label is an enzyme, detection may be accomplished by any of the presently utilized calorimetric, spectrophotometric, fluorospectrophotometric, amperometric or gasometric techniques known in the art.
 In a further embodiment, the present invention contemplates antagonists of the activity of eEF-2 kinase. In particular, an agent or molecule that inhibits phosphorylation of eEF-2. In a specific embodiment, the antagonist can be a peptide comprising sequences, or sequence variants adjacent to, and including, the phosphorylation site in either eEF-2 or MHC. It is anticipated that these peptides would be competitive inhibitors of eEF-2 kinase's cognate target.
 In still a further embodiment, the invention contemplates antisense drugs such that sequences complementary to the eEF-2 kinase mRNA inhibit production of functional eEF-2 kinase. In a specific embodiment, the antisense drug may be a complementary oligonucleotide (DNA, RNA, or hybrid thereof), which may or may not be modified so as to have the following characteristics: 1) enhanced hybridization kinetics; 2) tighter binding to complementary sequence than its unmodified counterpart; and/or, 3) resistance to nucleases. In another specific embodiment, the antisense drug may be a complementary oligonucleotide (DNA, RNA, or hybrid thereof), that has the ability to cleave its target sequence either by ribozyme, or ribozyme-like, activity, or by nuclease activity imparted on the antisense drug by physical attachment to anyone of a number of nucleases.
 More specifically, the therapeutic method generally referred to herein could include the method for the treatment of various pathologies or other cellular dysfunctions and derangements by the administration of pharmaceutical compositions that may comprise effective inhibitors of eEF-2 kinase activity, or other equally effective drugs developed for instance by a drug screening assay prepared and used in accordance with a further aspect of the present invention.
 Accordingly, it is a principal object of the present invention to provide a method and an associated assay system for screening potential inhibitors of eEF-2 kinase activity.
 It is a further object of the present invention to provide antibodies to the phosphorylated eEF-2 kinase target, and methods for their preparation, including recombinant means.
 It is a further object of the present invention to provide a method for detecting eEF-2 kinase activity in mammals in which invasive, spontaneous, or idiopathic pathological states are suspected to be present.
 It is a still further object of the present invention to provide a method for the treatment of mammals to control the amount or activity of eEF-2 kinase, so as to alter the adverse consequences of such presence or activity, or where beneficial, to enhance such activity.
 It is a still further object of the present invention to provide a method for the treatment of mammals to control the amount or activity of eEF-2 kinase, so as to treat or avert the adverse consequences of invasive, spontaneous or idiopathic pathological states.
 It is a still further object of the present invention to provide pharmaceutical compositions for use in therapeutic methods which comprise or are based upon a sequence complementary to that of the eEF-2 kinase mRNA, which would form the basis for an antisense therapeutic that can reduce expression, and thus activity, of eEF-2 kinase.
 It is yet another object of the invention to provide pharmaceutical compositions for use in therapeutic methods which comprise or are based upon peptide analogs of eEF-2 phosphorylation target amino acid sequences. It is anticipated that certain peptide analogs may act as efficacious competitive inhibitors of eEF-2 phosphorylation.
 Other objects and advantages will become apparent to those skilled in the art from a review of the ensuing description which proceeds with reference to the following illustrative drawings.
FIG. 1. A, Sequence alignment of the catalytic domains of human eEF-2 kinase, C. elegans eEF-2 kinase, MHCK A, MHCK B and clone FC-ANO9. Identical amino acids (bold) and conserved hydrophobic amino acids (0) are noted. B, Phylogenetic tree of sequences shown in (A), with the addition of mouse and rat eEF-2 kinases. Tree was obtained using the J. Hein method with PAM250 residue weight table. The following accession numbers were used for the sequences: U93846-U93850, 1495779, 1170675, 1903458, C22986.
FIG. 2. Expression of recombinant eEF-2 kinase in vitro. Plasmid DNA from clones Cefk-1, Cefk-2, as well as mouse and human eEF-2 kinase cDNA were used in the TNT wheat germ extract coupled transcription/translation system (Promega). [35S]Methionine-labeled products were then analyzed by SDS/PAGE.
FIG. 3. Activity of recombinant eEF-2 kinase in vitro. A large scale (0.5 ml) reaction using a mixture of Cefk-1 and Cefk-2 plasmids was run as in FIG. 2, with the omission of labeled methionine. In the control experiment, the reaction was run with a plasmid containing a luciferase gene. (A) The reaction mixtures were separated by chromatography on a Mono Q column as described. (B) eEF-2 kinase activity in fractions was measured as the ability to phosphorylate purified rabbit eEF-2 in the presence of [γ-32P]ATP. Purified rabbit reticulocyte eEF-2 kinase was used in the (+) control experiments. (C) Ca2+/calmodulin-dependency of recombinant C. elegans eEF-2 kinase. Mono Q fraction 25 was assayed in a standard eEF-2 kinase assay in the presence and absence of Ca2+and calmodulin and 20 μM trifluoperazine (TFP) or N-(6 aminohexyl)-5-chloro-1-napthalene-sulfonamide (W7). (D) Ca2+/calmodulin-dependency of recombinant human eEF-2 kinase. Human eEF-2 kinase cDNA was expressed in a coupled transcription/translation system as described above and eEF-2 kinase activity was assayed without further purification.
FIG. 4. Northern blot analysis of tissue distribution of mouse eEF-2 kinase mRNA. Northern blots of mouse tissue containing 2 μg of polyadenylated RNA per lane were probed with the random-primed 32P-labeled mouse eEF-2 kinase cDNA (31). The major transcript appeared at 3.1 kb and minor transcripts at 6.1 and 2.5 kb were also apparent (exposure time, 5 days). The same blots were stripped and rehybridized with a human eEF-2 cDNA (exposure time, 4 days).
FIG. 5. Sequence alignment of C. elegans, mouse, human eEF-2 kinase, and the catalytic domain of Dictyostelium discoideum MHCK A. Identical amino acids are indicated by dark blue boxed regions and chemically conserved amino acids are indicated by light blue shaded regions. Amino acids in the human sequence that are identical to the mouse sequence are represented by dots. Amino acids underlined in black correspond to the six regions that match peptides obtained from the sequencing of purified rabbit reticulocyte eEF-2 kinase. The GXGXXG nucleotide-binding motif is underlined in red. The blue dashed line over residues 625-632 in C. elegans eEF-2 kinases designates the amino acids corresponding to exon 4, which is missing in Cefk-2.
FIG. 6. Substrate specificity of eEF-2 kinase and MHCK A. Phosphorylation assays containing eEF-2 kinase (−50 ng) or MHCK A (0.2 μg) and either 0.5 μg rabbit reticulocyte eEF-2 or 0.1 μg Dictyostelium myosin were performed under standard conditions except that incubation time was extended to 10 min.
FIG. 7. Schematic representation of the structure of mammalian and C. elegans eEF-2 kinases and MHCK A. The homologous regions are represented by dark shading. The regions of weak similarity are represented by light shading. The position of the GXGXXG motif is indicated by vertical arrows.
FIG. 8. Assay for eEF-2 kinase activity. Recombinant eEF-2 kinase (2 μg) was incubated with increasing concentrations of a peptide phosphorylation target (RKKGESEKTKTKEFL) in a buffer consisting of 12.5 mM Hepes-KOH (pH 7.4), 2.5 mM magnesium acetate, 1.25 mM DTT, 25 μM CaCl2, 0.5 μg calmodulin, 100 μM ATP, and 0.5 μCi [γ-33P]ATP in a total volume of 50 μl. Samples were incubated at 30° C. and aliquots were withdrawn at various time points, and the reaction was terminated by incubation in an ice water bath. The aliquots were then spotted onto phosphocellulose paper (2 cm×2 cm) and washed (4×4 min) with 75 mM phosphoric acid. The papers were then rinsed with 100% ethanol, dried, and then counted in a scintillation counter.
 In accordance with the present invention there may be employed conventional molecular biology, microbiology, and recombinant DNA techniques within the skill of the art. Such techniques are explained fully in the literature. See, e.g., Sambrook et al, “Molecular Cloning: A Laboratory Manual” (1989); “Current Protocols in Molecular Biology” Volumes I-III [Ausubel, R. M., ed. (1994)]; “Cell Biology: A Laboratory Handbook” Volumes I-III [J. E. Celis, ed. (1994))]; “Current Protocols in Immunology” Volumes I-III [Coligan, J. E., ed. (1994)]; “Oligonucleotide Synthesis” (M. J. Gait ed. 1984); “Nucleic Acid Hybridization” [B. D. Hames & S. J. Higgins eds. (1985)]; “Transcription And Translation” [B. D. Hames & S. J. Higgins, eds. (1984)]; “Animal Cell Culture” [R. I. Freshney, ed. (1986)]; “Immobilized Cells And Enzymes” [IRL Press, (1986)]; B. Perbal, “A Practical Guide To Molecular Cloning” (1984).
 Therefore, if appearing herein, the following terms shall have the definitions set out below.
 The terms “elongation factor-2 kinase”, “eEF-2 kinase ”, “EF-2 kinase”, “Cefk”, and any variants not specifically listed, may be used herein interchangeably, and as used throughout the present application and claims refer to proteinaceous material including single or multiple proteins, and extends to those proteins having the amino acid sequence data described herein and presented in FIGS. 1 and 5 (SEQ ID NO: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, abd 14), and the profile of activities set forth herein and in the claims. Accordingly, proteins displaying substantially equivalent or altered activity are likewise contemplated. These modifications may be deliberate, for example, such as modifications obtained through site-directed mutagenesis, or may be accidental, such as those obtained through mutations in hosts that are producers of the complex or its named subunits. Also, the terms elongation factor-2 kinase”, “eEF-2 kinase”, “EF-2 kinase”, and “Cefk” are intended to include within their scope proteins specifically recited herein as well as all substantially homologous analogs and allelic variations.
 The amino acid residues described herein are preferred to be in the “L” isomeric form. However, residues in the “D” isomeric form can be substituted for any L-amino acid residue, as long as the desired fractional property of immunoglobulin-binding is retained by the polypeptide. NH2 refers to the free amino group present at the amino terminus of a polypeptide. COOH refers to the free carboxy group present at the carboxy terminus of a polypeptide. In keeping with standard polypeptide nomenclature, J. Biol. Chem., 243:3552-59 (1969), abbreviations for amino acid residues are shown in the following Table of Correspondence:
 It should be noted that all amino-acid residue sequences are represented herein by formulae whose left and right orientation is in the conventional direction of amino-terminus to carboxy-terminus. Furthermore, it should be noted that a dash at the beginning or end of an amino acid residue sequence indicates a peptide bond to a further sequence of one or more amino-acid residues. The above Table is presented to correlate the three-letter and one-letter notations which may appear alternately herein.
 A “replicon” is any genetic element (e.g., plasmid, chromosome, virus) that functions as an autonomous unit of DNA replication in vivo; i.e., capable of replication under its own control.
 A “vector” is a replicon, such as plasmid, phage or cosmid, to which another DNA segment may be attached so as to bring about the replication of the attached segment.
 A “DNA molecule” refers to the polymeric form of deoxyribonucleotides (adenine, guanine, thymine, or cytosine) in its either single stranded form, or a double-stranded helix. This term refers only to the primary and secondary structure of the molecule, and does not limit it to any particular tertiary forms. Thus, this term includes double-stranded DNA found, inter alia, in linear DNA molecules (e.g., restriction fragments), viruses, plasmids, and chromosomes. In discussing the structure of particular double-stranded DNA molecules, sequences may be described herein according to the normal convention of giving only the sequence in the 5′ to 3′ direction along the nontranscribed strand of DNA (i.e., the strand having a sequence homologous to the mRNA).
 An “origin of replication” refers to those DNA sequences that participate in DNA synthesis.
 A DNA “coding sequence” is a double-stranded DNA sequence which is transcribed and translated into a polypeptide in vivo when placed under the control of appropriate regulatory sequences. The boundaries of the coding sequence are determined by a start codon at the 5′ (amino) terminus and a translation stop codon at the 3′ (carboxyl) terminus. A coding sequence can include, but is not limited to, prokaryotic sequences, cDNA from eukaryotic mRNA, genomic DNA sequences from eukaryotic (e.g., mammalian) DNA, and even synthetic DNA sequences. A polyadenylation signal and transcription termination sequence will usually be located 3′ to the coding sequence.
 Transcriptional and translational control sequences are DNA regulatory sequences, such as promoters, enhancers, polyadenylation signals, terminators, and the like, that provide for the expression of a coding sequence in a host cell.
 A “promoter sequence” is a DNA regulatory region capable of binding RNA polymerase in a cell and initiating transcription of a downstream (3′ direction) coding sequence. For purposes of defining the present invention, the promoter sequence is bounded at its 3′ terminus by the transcription initiation site and extends upstream (5′ direction) to include the minimum number of bases or elements necessary to initiate transcription at levels detectable above background. Within the promoter sequence will be found a transcription initiation site (conveniently defined by mapping with nuclease S1), as well as protein binding domains (consensus sequences) responsible for the binding of RNA polymerase. Eukaryotic promoters will often, but not always, contain “TATA” boxes and “CAT” boxes. Prokaryotic promoters contain Shine-Dalgarno sequences in addition to the −10 and −35 consensus sequences.
 An “expression control sequence” is a DNA sequence that controls and regulates the transcription and translation of another DNA sequence. A coding sequence is “under the control” of transcriptional and translational control sequences in a cell when RNA polymerase transcribes the coding sequence into mRNA, which is then translated into the protein encoded by the coding sequence.
 A “signal sequence” can be included before the coding sequence. This sequence encodes a signal peptide, N-terminal to the polypeptide, that communicates to the host cell to direct the polypeptide to the cell surface or secrete the polypeptide into the media, and this signal peptide is clipped off by the host cell before the protein leaves the cell. Signal sequences can be found associated with a variety of proteins native to prokaryotes and eukaryotes.
 The term “oligonucleotide,” as used herein in referring to the probe of the present invention, is defined as a molecule comprised of two or more ribonucleotides, preferably more than three. Its exact size will depend upon many factors which, in turn, depend upon the ultimate function and use of the oligonucleotide.
 The term “primer” as used herein refers to an oligonucleotide, whether occurring naturally as in a purified restriction digest or produced synthetically, which is capable of acting as a point of initiation of synthesis when placed under conditions in which synthesis of a primer extension product, which is complementary to a nucleic acid strand, is induced, i.e., in the presence of nucleotides and an inducing agent such as a DNA polymerase and at a suitable temperature and pH. The primer may be either single-stranded or double-stranded and must be sufficiently long to prime the synthesis of the desired extension product in the presence of the inducing agent. The exact length of the primer will depend upon many factors, including temperature, source of primer and use of the method. For example, for diagnostic applications, depending on the complexity of the target sequence, the oligonucleotide primer typically contains 15-25 or more nucleotides, although it may contain fewer nucleotides.
 The primers herein are selected to be “substantially” complementary to different strands of a particular target DNA sequence. This means that the primers must be sufficiently complementary to hybridize with their respective strands. Therefore, the primer sequence need not reflect the exact sequence of the template. For example, a non-complementary nucleotide fragment may be attached to the 5′ end of the primer, with the remainder of the primer sequence being complementary to the strand. Alternatively, non-complementary bases or longer sequences can be interspersed into the primer, provided that the primer sequence has sufficient complementarity with the sequence of the strand to hybridize therewith and thereby form the template for the synthesis of the extension product.
 As used herein, the terms “restriction endonucleases” and “restriction enzymes” refer to bacterial enzymes, each of which cut double-stranded DNA at or near a specific nucleotide sequence.
 A cell has been “transformed” by exogenous or heterologous DNA when such DNA has been introduced inside the cell. The transforming DNA may or may not be integrated (covalently linked) into chromosomal DNA making up the genome of the cell. In prokaryotes, yeast, and mammalian cells for example, the transforming DNA may be maintained on an episomal element such as a plasmid. With respect to eukaryotic cells, a stably transformed cell is one in which the transforming DNA has become integrated into a chromosome so that it is inherited by daughter cells through chromosome replication. This stability is demonstrated by the ability of the eukaryotic cell to establish cell lines or clones comprised of a population of daughter cells containing the transforming DNA. A “clone” is a population of cells derived from a single cell or common ancestor by mitosis. A “cell line” is a clone of a primary cell that is capable of stable growth in vitro for many generations.
 Two DNA sequences are “substantially homologous” when at least about 75% (preferably at least about 80%, and most preferably at least about 90 or 95%) of the nucleotides match over the defined length of the DNA sequences. Sequences that are substantially homologous can be identified by comparing the sequences using standard software available in sequence data banks, or in a Southern hybridization experiment under, for example, stringent conditions as defined for that particular system. Defining appropriate hybridization conditions is within the skill of the art. See, e.g., Maniatis et al., supra; DNA Cloning, Vols. I & II, supra; Nucleic Acid Hybridization, supra.
 It should be appreciated that also within the scope of the present invention are DNA sequences encoding eEF-2 kinase which code for a protein having the same amino acid sequence as SEQ ID NO: 2, 4, and 10, but which are degenerate to SEQ ID NO: 1, 3, and 9. By “degenerate to” is meant that a different three-letter codon is used to specify a particular amino acid. It is well known in the art that the following codons can be used interchangeably to code for each specific amino acid:
 It should be understood that the codons specified above are for RNA sequences. The corresponding codons for DNA have a T substituted for U.
 Mutations can be made in SEQ ID NO: 1, 3, and 9 such that a particular codon is changed to a codon which codes for a different amino acid. Such a mutation is generally made by making the fewest nucleotide changes possible. A substitution mutation of this sort can be made to change an amino acid in the resulting protein in a non-conservative manner (i.e., by changing the codon from an amino acid belonging to a grouping of amino acids having a particular size or characteristic to an amino acid belonging to another grouping) or in a conservative manner (i.e., by changing the codon from an amino acid belonging to a grouping of amino acids having a particular size or characteristic to an amino acid belonging to the same grouping). Such a conservative change generally leads to less change in the structure and function of the resulting protein. A non-conservative change is more likely to alter the structure, activity or function of the resulting protein. The present invention should be considered to include sequences containing conservative changes which do not significantly alter the activity or binding characteristics of the resulting protein.
 The following is one example of various groupings of amino acids:
 Amino Acids With Nonpolar R Groups
 Amino Acids With Uncharged Polar R Groups
 Amino Acids With Charged Polar R Groups (Negatively Charged at pH 6.0)
 Aspartic acid
 Glutamic acid
 Basic Amino Acids (Positively Charged at pH 6.0)
 Histidine (at pH 6.0)
 Another Grouping May be Those Amino Acids With Phenyl Groups:
 Another Grouping May be According to Molecular Weight (i.e., Size of R Groups):
 Particularly preferred substitutions are:
 Lys for Ar, and vice versa such that a positive charge may be maintained;
 Glu for Asp and vice versa such that a negative charge may be maintained;
 Ser for Thr such that a free —OH can be maintained; and
 Gln for Asn such that a free NH2 can be maintained.
 Amino acid substitutions may also be introduced to substitute an amino acid with a particularly preferable property. For example, a Cys may be introduced a potential site for disulfide bridges with another Cys. A His may be introduced as a particularly “catalytic” site (i.e., His can act as an acid or base and is the most common amino acid in biochemical catalysis). Pro may be introduced because of its particularly planar structure, which induces β-turns in the protein's structure.
 Two amino acid sequences are “substantially homologous” when at least about 70% of the amino acid residues (preferably at least about 80%, and most preferably at least about 90 or 95%) are identical, or represent conservative substitutions.
 A “heterologous” region of the DNA construct is an identifiable segment of DNA within a larger DNA molecule that is not found in association with the larger molecule in nature. Thus, when the heterologous region encodes a mammalian gene, the gene will usually be flanked by DNA that does not flank the mammalian genomic DNA in the genome of the source organism. Another example of a heterologous coding sequence is a construct where the coding sequence itself is not found in nature (e.g., a cDNA where the genomic coding sequence contains introns, or synthetic sequences having codons different than the native gene). Allelic variations or naturally-occurring mutational events do not give rise to a heterologous region of DNA as defined herein.
 An “antibody” is any immunoglobulin, including antibodies and fragments thereof, that binds a specific epitope. The term encompasses polyclonal, monoclonal, and chimeric antibodies, the last mentioned described in further detail in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,816,397 and 4,816,567.
 An “antibody combining site” is that structural portion of an antibody molecule comprised of heavy and light chain variable and hypervariable regions that specifically binds antigen.
 The phrase “antibody molecule” in its various grammatical forms as used herein contemplates both an intact immunoglobulin molecule and an immunologically active portion of an immunoglobulin molecule.
 Exemplary antibody molecules are intact immunoglobulin molecules, substantially intact immunoglobulin molecules and those portions of an immunoglobulin molecule that contains the paratope, including those portions known in the art as Fab, Fab′, F(ab′)2 and F(v), which portions are preferred for use in the therapeutic methods described herein.
 Fab and F(ab′)2 portions of antibody molecules are prepared by the proteolytic reaction of papain and pepsin, respectively, on substantially intact antibody molecules by methods that are well-known. See for example, U.S. Pat. No. 4,342,566 to Theofilopolous et al. Fab′ antibody molecule portions are also well-known and are produced from F(ab′)2 portions followed by reduction of the disulfide bonds linking the two heavy chain portions as with mercaptoethanol, and followed by alkylation of the resulting protein mercaptan with a reagent such as iodoacetamide. An antibody containing intact antibody molecules is preferred herein.
 The phrase “monoclonal antibody” in its various grammatical forms refers to an antibody having only one species of antibody combining site capable of immunoreacting with a particular antigen. A monoclonal antibody thus typically displays a single binding affinity for any antigen with which it immunoreacts. A monoclonal antibody may therefore contain an antibody molecule having a plurality of antibody combining sites, each immunospecific for a different antigen; e.g., a bispecific (chimeric) monoclonal antibody.
 The phrase “pharmaceutically acceptable” refers to molecular entities and compositions that are physiologically tolerable and do not typically produce an allergic or similar untoward reaction, such as gastric upset, dizziness and the like, when administered to a human.
 The phrase “therapeutically effective amount” is used herein to mean an amount sufficient to prevent. and preferably reduce by at least about 30 percent, more preferably by at least 50 percent, most preferably by at least 90 percent, a clinically significant change in the S phase activity of a target cellular mass, or other feature of pathology such as for example, elevated blood pressure, fever or white cell count as may attend its presence and activity.
 A DNA sequence is “operatively linked” to an expression control sequence when the expression control sequence controls and regulates the transcription and translation of that DNA sequence. The term “operatively linked” includes having an appropriate start signal (e.g., ATG) in front of the DNA sequence to be expressed and maintaining the correct reading frame to permit expression of the DNA sequence under the control of the expression control sequence and production of the desired product encoded by the DNA sequence. If a gene that one desires to insert into a recombinant DNA molecule does not contain an appropriate start signal, such a start signal can be inserted in front of the gene.
 The term “standard hybridization conditions” refers to salt and temperature conditions substantially equivalent to 5× SSC and 65° C. for both hybridization and wash. However, one skilled in the art will appreciate that such “standard hybridization conditions” are dependent on particular conditions including the concentration of sodium and magnesium in the buffer, nucleotide sequence length and concentration, percent mismatch, percent formamide, and the like. Also important in the determination of “standard hybridization conditions” is whether the two sequences hybridizing are RNA-RNA, DNA-DNA or RNA-DNA. Such standard hybridization conditions are easily determined by one skilled in the art according to well known formulae, wherein hybridization is typically 10-20° C. below the predicted or determined Tm with washes of higher stringency, if desired.
 In one aspect, the present invention relates to the identification of a new superfamily of protein kinases centered around eEF-2 kinase. Accordingly, it includes the DNA sequences coding for these family members. In addition, the invention also contemplates that each member of this new protein kinase superfamily has its own cognate phosphorylation target. As specified supra, two of these targets are eEF-2 and MHC, which are phosphorylated by eEF-2 kinase and MHCK A, respectively.
 In a particular embodiment, the present invention relates to phosphorylation target analogs, which are short peptide sequences derived from phosphorylation targets of this new superfamily of protein kinases centered around eEF-2 kinase. Specifically, it is contemplated that these peptide analogs will be instrumental in the development of high throughput screening assays to identify inhibitors of members of this new superfamily.
 As overexpression of eEF-2 kinase has been associated with a variety of cancers and other hyperproliferitive pathologies (discussed supra), the invention also includes assay systems for the screening of potential drugs effective at inhibiting eEF-2 kinase activity. It is contemplated that any of the recited assays can be automated using technology that is standard to the skilled artisan.
 As stated above, the present invention also relates to a recombinant DNA molecule or cloned gene, or a degenerate variant thereof, which encodes a eEF-2 kinase, or a fragment thereof, that possesses a molecular weight of about 100 kD and an amino acid sequence set forth in FIG. 5 (SEQ ID NO: 2, 4, and 10); preferably a nucleic acid molecule, in particular a recombinant DNA molecule or cloned gene, encoding the 100 kD eEF-2 kinase has a nucleotide sequence or is complementary to a DNA sequence shown in FIG. 5 (SEQ ID NO: 1, 3, and 9).
 Therapeutic possibilities are raised by the knowledge of the eEF-2 kinase sequence and the existence of peptide analogs that can act as phosphorylation targets for the kinase. Accordingly, it is contemplated that sequences that are derived from the complement to the eEF-2 kinase mRNA sequence, and various modifications thereof, can act as potent antisense drugs that either inhibit expression in a competitive fashion, or, more effectively, by nuclease activity associated with the antisense drug that cleaves the eEF-2 kinase mRNA sequence, thus rendering it irreversibly inactive. Alternative therapeutics are also contemplated that concern the use of peptides and peptide analogs representing portions of phosphorylation target amino acid sequences. It is envisioned that such peptide-based drugs would inhibit eEF-2 kinase activity on its native target, thus bypassing the cascade of events that would lead to malignant transformation.
 The antisense or peptide-based drugs may be prepared in pharmaceutical compositions, with a suitable carrier and at a strength effective for administration by various means to a patient experiencing an adverse medical condition associated with specific malignancies for the treatment thereof. A variety of administrative techniques may be utilized, among them parenteral techniques such as subcutaneous, intravenous and intraperitoneal injections, catheterizations and the like. Average quantities of the antisense or peptide-based drugs may vary and in particular should be based upon the recommendations and prescription of a qualified physician or veterinarian.
 Also, antibodies including both polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies, and drugs that modulate the production or activity of eEF-2 kinase may possess certain diagnostic applications and may, for example, be utilized for the purpose of detecting and/or measuring levels of eEF-2 kinase. It is anticipated that further experimentation will reveal a prognostic correlation between eEF-2 kinase levels and the prediction and or progression of certain malignancies associated with carcinoma. For example, eEF-2 kinase may be used to produce both polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies to themselves in a variety of cellular media, by known techniques such as the hybridoma technique utilizing, for example, fused mouse spleen lymphocytes and myeloma cells. Likewise, small molecules that mimic or antagonize the activity of eEF-2 kinase of the invention may be discovered or synthesized, and may be used in diagnostic and/or therapeutic protocols.
 The general methodology for making monoclonal antibodies by hybridomas is well known. Immortal, antibody-producing cell lines can also be created by techniques other than fusion, such as direct transformation of B lymphocytes with oncogenic DNA, or transfection with Epstein-Barr virus. See, e.g., M. Schreier et al., “Hybridoma Techniques” (1980); Hammerling et al., “Monoclonal Antibodies And T-cell Hybridomas” (1981); Kennett et al., “Monoclonal Antibodies” (1980); see also U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,341,761; 4,399,121; 4,427,783; 4,444,887; 4,451,570; 4,466,917; 4,472,500; 4,491,632; 4,493,890.
 Panels of monoclonal antibodies produced against eEF-2 kinase peptides can be screened for various properties; i.e., isotype, epitope, affinity, etc. Of particular interest are monoclonal antibodies that neutralize the activity of eEF-2 kinase. Such monoclonals can be readily identified in eEF-2 kinase activity assays. High affinity antibodies are also useful when immunoaffinity purification of native or recombinant eEF-2 kinase is desired.
 Preferably, the anti-eEF-2 kinase antibody used in the diagnostic methods of this invention is an affinity purified polyclonal antibody. More preferably, the antibody is a monoclonal antibody (mAb). In addition, it is preferable for the anti-eEF-2 kinase antibody molecules used herein be in the form of Fab, Fab′, F(ab′)2 or F(v) portions of whole antibody molecules.
 As suggested earlier, the diagnostic method of the present invention comprises examining a cellular sample or medium by means of an assay including an effective amount of an antagonist to eEF-2 kinase, such as an anti-eEF-2 kinase antibody, preferably an affinity-purified polyclonal antibody, and more preferably a mAb. In addition, it is preferable for the anti-eEF-2 kinase antibody molecules used herein be in the form of Fab, Fab′, F(ab′)2 or F(v) portions or whole antibody molecules. As previously discussed, patients capable of benefiting from this method include those suffering from cancer, a pre-cancerous lesion, a viral infection or other like pathological derangement. Methods for isolating the eEF-2 kinase and inducing anti-eEF-2 kinase antibodies and for determining and optimizing the ability of anti-eEF-2 kinase antibodies to assist in the examination of the target cells are all well-known in the art.
 Methods for producing polyclonal anti-polypeptide antibodies are well-known in the art. See U.S. Pat. No. 4,493,795 to Nestor et al. A monoclonal antibody, typically containing Fab and/or F(ab′)2 portions of useful antibody molecules, can be prepared using the hybridoma technology described in Antibodies—A Laboratory Manual, Harlow and Lane, eds., Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York (1988), which is incorporated herein by reference.
 Splenocytes are typically fused with myeloma cells using polyethylene glycol (PEG) 6000. Fused hybrids are selected by their sensitivity to HAT. Hybridomas producing a monoclonal antibody useful in practicing this invention are identified by their ability to immunoreact with the present eEF-2 kinase and their ability to inhibit specified eEF-2 kinase activity in target cells.
 A monoclonal antibody useful in practicing the present invention can be produced by initiating a monoclonal hybridoma culture comprising a nutrient medium containing a hybridoma that secretes antibody molecules of the appropriate antigen specificity. The culture is maintained under conditions and for a time period sufficient for the hybridoma to secrete the antibody molecules into the medium. The antibody-containing medium is then collected. The antibody molecules can then be further isolated by well-known techniques.
 Media useful for the preparation of these compositions are both well-known in the art and commercially available and include synthetic culture media, inbred mice and the like. An exemplary synthetic medium is Dulbecco's minimal essential medium (DMEM; Dulbecco et al., Virol. 8:396 (1959)) supplemented with 4.5 gm/l glucose, 20 mM glutamine, and 20% fetal calf serum. An exemplary inbred mouse strain is the Balb/c.
 Methods for producing monoclonal anti-eEF-2 kinase antibodies are also well-known in the art. See Niman et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 80:4949-4953 (1983). Typically, the present eEF-2 kinase or a peptide analog is used either alone or conjugated to an immunogenic carrier, as the immunogen in the before described procedure for producing anti-eEF-2 kianse monoclonal antibodies. The hybridomas are screened for the ability to produce an antibody that immunoreacts with the eEF-2 kinase peptide analog and the present eEF-2 kinase.
 The present invention further contemplates therapeutic compositions useful in practicing the therapeutic methods of this invention. A subject therapeutic composition includes, in admixture, a pharmaceutically acceptable excipient (carrier) and one or more of an anti-eEF-2 kinase antibody, peptide analog capable of competing for phosphorylation of eEF-2 by eEF-2 kinase. antisense drug against eEF-2 kinase mRNA, or any other compound that is found to inhibit eEF-2 kinase activity. In a preferred embodiment, the composition comprises an antigen capable of modulating the activity of eEF-2 kinase within a target cell.
 The preparation of therapeutic compositions which contain polypeptides, analogs or active fragments as active ingredients is well understood in the art. Typically, such compositions are prepared as injectables, either as liquid solutions or suspensions, however, solid forms suitable for solution in, or suspension in, liquid prior to injection can also be prepared. The preparation can also be emulsified. The active therapeutic ingredient is often mixed with excipients which are pharmaceutically acceptable and compatible with the active ingredient. Suitable excipients are, for example, water, saline, dextrose, glycerol, ethanol, or the like and combinations thereof. In addition, if desired, the composition can contain minor amounts of auxiliary substances such as wetting or emulsifying agents, pH buffering agents which enhance the effectiveness of the active ingredient.
 A polypeptide, analog or active fragment can be formulated into the therapeutic composition as neutralized pharmaceutically acceptable salt forms. Pharmaceutically acceptable salts include the acid addition salts (formed with the free amino groups of the polypeptide or antibody molecule) and which are formed with inorganic acids such as, for example, hydrochloric or phosphoric acids, or such organic acids as acetic, oxalic, tartaric, mandelic, and the like. Salts formed from the free carboxyl groups can also be derived from inorganic bases such as, for example, sodium, potassium, ammonium, calcium, or ferric hydroxides, and such organic bases as isopropylamine, trimethylamine, 2-ethylamino ethanol, histidine, procaine, and the like.
 The therapeutic polypeptide-, analog- or active fragment-containing compositions are conventionally administered intravenously, as by injection of a unit dose, for example. The term “unit dose” when used in reference to a therapeutic composition of the present invention refers to physically discrete units suitable as unitary dosage for humans, each unit containing a predetermined quantity of active material calculated to produce the desired therapeutic effect in association with the required diluent; i.e., carrier, or vehicle.
 The compositions are administered in a manner compatible with the dosage formulation, and in a therapeutically effective amount. The quantity to be administered depends on the subject to be treated, capacity of the subject's immune system to utilize the active ingredient, and degree of inhibition or neutralization of eEF-2 kinase activity desired. Precise amounts of active ingredient required to be administered depend on the judgment of the practitioner and are peculiar to each individual. However, suitable dosages may range from about 0.1 to 20, preferably about 0.5 to about 10, and more preferably one to several, milligrams of active ingredient per kilogram body weight of individual per day and depend on the route of administration. Suitable regimes for initial administration and booster shots are also variable, but are typified by an initial administration followed by repeated doses at one or more hour intervals by a subsequent injection or other administration. Alternatively, continuous intravenous infusion sufficient to maintain concentrations of ten nanomolar to ten micromolar in the blood are contemplated.
 As used herein, “pg” means picogram, “ng” means nanogram, “ug” or “μg” mean microgram, “mg” means milligram, “ul” or “μl” mean microliter, “ml” means milliliter, “l” means liter.
 Another feature of this invention is the expression of the DNA sequences disclosed herein. As is well known in the art, DNA sequences may be expressed by operatively linking them to an expression control sequence in an appropriate expression vector and employing that expression vector to transform an appropriate unicellular host.
 Such operative linking of a DNA sequence of this invention to an expression control sequence, of course, includes, if not already part of the DNA sequence, the provision of an initiation codon, ATG, in the correct reading frame upstream of the DNA sequence.
 A wide variety of host/expression vector combinations may be employed in expressing the DNA sequences of this invention. Useful expression vectors, for example, may consist of segments of chromosomal, non-chromosomal and synthetic DNA sequences. Suitable vectors include derivatives of SV40 and known bacterial plasmids, e.g., E. coli plasmids col E1, pCR1, pBR322, pMB9 and their derivatives, plasmids such as RP4; phage DNAS, e.g., the numerous derivatives of phage λ, e.g., NM989, and other phage DNA, e.g., M13 and filamentous single stranded phage DNA; yeast plasmids such as the 2μ plasmid or derivatives thereof; vectors useful in eukaryotic cells, such as vectors useful in insect or mammalian cells; vectors derived from combinations of plasmids and phage DNAs, such as plasmids that have been modified to employ phage DNA or other expression control sequences; and the like.
 Any of a wide variety of expression control sequences—sequences that control the expression of a DNA sequence operatively linked to it—may be used in these vectors to express the DNA sequences of this invention. Such useful expression control sequences include, for example, the early or late promoters of SV40, CMV, vaccinia, polyoma or adenovirus, the lac system, the tip system, the TAC system, the TRC system, the LTR system, the major operator and promoter regions of phage λ, the control regions of fd coat protein, the promoter for 3-phosphoglycerate kinase or other glycolytic enzymes, the promoters of acid phosphatase (e.g., PhoS), the promoters of the yeast α-mating factors, and other sequences known to control the expression of genes of prokaryotic or eukaryotic cells or their viruses, and various combinations thereof.
 A wide variety of unicellular host cells are also useful in expressing the DNA sequences of this invention. These hosts may include well known eukaryotic and prokaryotic hosts, such as strains of E. coli, Pseudomonas, Bacillus, Streptomyces, fungi such as yeasts, and animal cells, such as CHO, R1.1, B-W and L-M cells, African Green Monkey kidney cells (e.g., COS 1, COS 7, BSC1, BSC40, and BMT10), insect cells (e.g., Sf9), and human cells and plant cells in tissue culture.
 It will be understood that not all vectors, expression control sequences and hosts will function equally well to express the DNA sequences of this invention. Neither will all hosts function equally well with the same expression system. However, one skilled in the art will be able to select the proper vectors, expression control sequences, and hosts without undue experimentation to accomplish the desired expression without departing from the scope of this invention. For example, in selecting a vector, the host must be considered because the vector must function in it. The vector's copy number, the ability to control that copy number, and the expression of any other proteins encoded by the vector, such as antibiotic markers, will also be considered.
 In selecting an expression control sequence, a variety of factors will normally be considered. These include, for example, the relative strength of the system, its controllability, and its compatibility with the particular DNA sequence or gene to be expressed, particularly as regards potential secondary structures. Suitable unicellular hosts will be selected by consideration of, e.g., their compatibility with the chosen vector, their secretion characteristics, their ability to fold proteins correctly, and their fermentation requirements, as well as the toxicity to the host of the product encoded by the DNA sequences to be expressed, and the ease of purification of the expression products.
 Considering these and other factors, a person skilled in the art will be able to construct a variety of vector/expression control sequence/host combinations that will express the DNA sequences of this invention on fermentation or in large scale animal culture.
 The present invention extends to the preparation of antisense oligonucleotides and ribozymes that may be used to interfere with the expression of the eEF-2 kinase gene at the translational level. This approach utilizes antisense nucleic acid and ribozymes to block translation of a specific mRNA, either by masking that mRNA with an antisense nucleic acid or cleaving it with a ribozyme.
 Antisense nucleic acids are DNA or RNA molecules that are complementary to at least a portion of a specific mRNA molecule. (See Weintraub, 1990; Marcus-Sekura, 1988.) In the cell, they hybridize to that mRNA, forming a double stranded molecule. The cell does not translate an mRNA in this double-stranded form. Therefore, antisense nucleic acids interfere with the expression of mRNA into protein. Oligomers of about fifteen nucleotides and molecules that hybridize to the AUG initiation codon will be particularly efficient, since they are easy to synthesize and are likely to pose fewer problems than larger molecules when introducing them into eEF-2 kinase-producing cells. Antisense methods have been used to inhibit the expression of many genes in vitro (Marcus-Sekura, 1988; Hambor et al., 1988).
 Ribozymes are RNA molecules possessing the ability to specifically cleave other single stranded RNA molecules in a manner somewhat analogous to DNA restriction endonucleases. Ribozymes were discovered from the observation that certain mRNAs have the ability to excise their own introns. By modifying the nucleotide sequence of these RNAs, researchers have been able to engineer molecules that recognize specific nucleotide sequences in an RNA molecule and cleave it (Cech, 1988.). Because they are sequence-specific, only mRNAs with particular sequences are inactivated.
 Investigators have identified two types of ribozymes, Tetrahymena-type and “hammerhead”-type. (Hasselhoff and Gerlach, 1988) Tetrahymena-type ribozymes recognize four-base sequences, while “hammerhead”-type recognize eleven- to eighteen-base sequences. The longer the recognition sequence, the more likely it is to occur exclusively in the target mRNA species. Therefore, hammerhead-type ribozymes are preferable to Tetrahymena-type ribozymes for inactivating a specific mRNA species, and eighteen base recognition sequences are preferable to shorter recognition sequences.
 The DNA sequences described herein may thus be used to prepare antisense molecules against, and ribozymes that cleave mRNAs for eEF-2 kinase.
 The present invention also relates to a variety of diagnostic applications, including methods for detecting and quantifying the levels of eEF-2 kinase. As mentioned earlier, eEF-2 kinase can be used to produce antibodies to itself by a variety of known techniques, and such antibodies could then be isolated and utilized as in tests for the presence and levels of eEF-2 kinase activity in suspect target cells.
 As described in detail above, antibody(ies) to eEF-2 kinase can be produced and isolated by standard methods including the well known hybridoma techniques. For convenience, the antibody(ies) to eEF-2 kinase will be referred to herein as Ab1 and antibody(ies) raised in another species as Ab2.
 The presence and levels of eEF-2 kinase in cells can be ascertained by the usual immunological procedures applicable to such determinations. A number of useful procedures are known. Three such procedures which are especially useful, utilize either eEF-2 kinase labeled with a detectable label, antibody Ab1 labeled with a detectable label, or antibody Ab2 labeled with a detectable label. The procedures may be summarized by the following equations wherein the asterisk indicates that the particle is labeled, and “−” stands for eEF-2 kinase:
− *+Ab 1=− *Ab 1 A.
− +Ab*= − Ab 1*
− +Ab 1 +Ab 2 * =Ab 1 Ab 2*
 The procedures and their application are all familiar to those skilled in the art and accordingly may be utilized within the scope of the present invention. The “competitive” procedure, Procedure A, is described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,654,090 and 3,850,752. Procedure C, the “sandwich” procedure, is described in U.S. Pat. Nos. RE 31,006 and 4,016,043. Still other procedures are known such as the “double antibody,” or “DASP” procedure.
 In each instance, eEF-2 kinase forms complexes with one or more antibody(ies) or binding partners and one member of the complex is labeled with a detectable label. The fact that a complex has formed and, if desired. the amount thereof, can be determined by known methods applicable to the detection of labels.
 It will be seen from the above, that a characteristic property of Ab2 is that it will react with Ab1. This is because Ab1 raised in one mammalian species has been used in another species as an antigen to raise the antibody Ab2. For example, Ab2 may be raised in goats using rabbit antibodies as antigens. Ab2 therefore would be anti-rabbit antibody raised in goats. For purposes of this description and claims, Ab1 will be referred to as a primary or anti-eEF-2 kinase antibody, and Ab2 will be referred to as a secondary or anti-Ab1 antibody.
 The labels most commonly employed for these studies are radioactive elements, enzymes, chemicals which fluoresce when exposed to ultraviolet light, and others.
 A number of fluorescent materials are known and can be utilized as labels. These include, for example, fluorescein, rhodamine, auramine, Texas Red, AMCA blue and Lucifer Yellow. A particular detecting material is anti-rabbit antibody prepared in goats and conjugated with fluorescein through an isothiocyanate.
 eEF-2 kinase can also be labeled with a radioactive element or with an enzyme. The radioactive label can be detected by any of the currently available counting procedures. The preferred isotope may be selected from 3H, 14C, 32P, 33P, 35S, 36Cl, 5″Cr, 57Co, 58Co, 59Fe, 90Y, 125I, 131I, and 186Re.
 Enzyme labels are likewise useful, and can be detected by any of the presently utilized calorimetric, spectrophotometric, fluorospectrophotometric, amperometric or gasometric techniques. The enzyme is conjugated to the selected particle by reaction with bridging molecules such as carbodiimides, diisocyanates, glutaraldehyde and the like. Many enzymes which can be used in these procedures are known and can be utilized. The preferred are peroxidase, β-glucuronidase, β-D-glucosidase, β-D-galactosidase, urease, glucose oxidase plus peroxidase and alkaline phosphatase. U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,654,090; 3,850,752; and 4,016,043 are referred to by way of example for their disclosure of alternate labeling material and methods.
 A particular assay system developed and utilized in accordance with the present invention, is known as a receptor assay. In a receptor assay, the material to be assayed is appropriately labeled and then certain cellular test colonies are inoculated with a quantity of both the labeled and unlabeled material after which binding studies are conducted to determine the extent to which the labeled material binds to the cell receptors. In this way, differences in affinity between materials can be ascertained.
 Accordingly, a purified quantity of the eEF-2 kinase may be radiolabeled and combined, for example, with antibodies or other inhibitors thereto, after which binding studies would be carried out. Solutions would then be prepared that contain various quantities of labeled and unlabeled uncombined eEF-2 kinase, and cell samples would then be inoculated and thereafter incubated. The resulting cell monolayers are then washed, solubilized and then counted in a gamma counter for a length of time sufficient to yield a standard error of <5%. These data are then subjected to Scatchard analysis after which observations and conclusions regarding material activity can be drawn. While the foregoing is exemplary, it illustrates the manner in which a receptor assay may be performed and utilized, in the instance where the cellular binding ability of the assayed material may serve as a distinguishing characteristic.
 In accordance with the above, an assay system for screening potential drugs effective to modulate the activity of eEF-2 kinase may be prepared. The eEF-2 kinase may be introduced into a test system, and the prospective drug may also be introduced into the resulting cell culture, and the culture thereafter examined to observe any changes in the eEF-2 kinase activity of the cells, due either to the addition of the prospective drug alone, or due to the effect of added quantities of the known eEF-2 kinase. Alternatively, these assays can be carried out in a purely in vitro fashion as discussed below.
 The following examples are presented in order to more fully illustrate the preferred embodiments of the invention. They should in no way be construed, however, as limiting the broad scope of the invention.
 Peptide Sequencing. eEF-2 kinase from rabbit reticulocyte lysate was purified as described (Hait et al., (1996) FEBS Lett. 397:55-60). Peptides were generated from the nitrocellulose-bound 103-kDa eEF-2 kinase protein by in situ tryptic digestion (Erdjument-Bromage et al., (1994) Protein Sci. 3:2435-2446) and fractionated by reverse-phase HPLC (Elicone et al., (1994) J. Chromatogr. 676:121-137) using a 1.0 mm Reliasil C18 column. Selected peak fraction were then analyzed by a combination of automated Edman sequencing and matrix-assisted laser-desorption time-of-flight mass spectrometry (Erdjument-Bromage et al., (1994)). The peptide sequences provided an essential lead into the cloning of eEF-2 kinase from human, mouse, rat, and Caenorhabditis elegans.
 Molecular Cloning of cDNAs Encoding C. elegans, Mouse, Rat, and Human eEF-2 Kinases. To clone the cDNA for C. elegans eEF-2 kinase, oligonucleotide primers were designed based on the amino and carboxy termini of the predicted gene product from F42A10.4. Reverse transcriptase-PCR (RT-PCR) was performed using these primers and total RNA from C. elegans (a gift form Monica Driscoll, Rutgers University). A single PCR product of ˜2.3 kb was obtained and gel-purified using a gel extraction kit (Qiagen, Chatsworth, Calif.). The fragment was ligated into vector pCR2.1 using the TA cloning kit (Invitrogen, Sorrento Valley, Calif.), and then transformed into Escherichia coli. Plasmid DNA was purified, and restriction analysis used to verify the orientation of the coding sequence with respect to the T7 promoter. Two clones (Cefk-1 and Cefk-2, C. elegans eEF-2 kinase isoforms 1 and 2) were chosen and sequenced using a Li-Cor (Lincoln, Nebr.) Long Read IR model 400L Automated DNA Sequencer. Analysis revealed that the two clones were identical except for a deletion of 24 bp in Cefk-2 which corresponds to exon 4 and probably represents an alternatively spliced form.
 To clone the mouse eEF-2 kinase, degenerate primers were designed based on the amino acid sequence of two peptides from rabbit eEF-2 kinase (LTPQAFSHFTFER (SEQ ID NO: 21) and LANXYYEKAE (SEQ ID NO: 22)): primer A, CA(G/A)GC(C/G/T/A)TT(C/T)(T/A)(C/G)(T/CCA(C/T)TT(C/T)AC(C/G/T/A)TT (C/T)GA(G/A(C/A)G (SEQ ID NO: 23); and primer B, TC(C/G/T/A)GC(C/T)TT(C/T)TC(G/A)TA(G/A)TA(C/T)TT(G/A)TT(C/G/A/T)G C (SEQ ID NO: 24). RT-PCR was performed using primers A and B and poly(A)+ RNA from mouse spleen (CLONTECH). A single PCR product (1.6 kb) was cloned into pCR2.1 (Invitrogen) and sequenced. Using sequence information form these mouse eEF-2 kinase cDNA fragments, new primers were designed for 5′ rapid amplification of cDNA ends (RACE) and 3′ RACE to obtain full-length mouse eEF-2 kinase cDNA. 5′ RACE and 3′ RACE were performed using Marathon-Ready mouse spleen cDNA (CLONTECH). This was carried out according to the manufacturer's instructions using the primers AP1 and C (TACAATCAGCTGATGACCAGAACGCTC) (SEQ ID NO: 25) 5′ antisense, or D (GGATTTGGACTGGACAAGAACCCCC) (SEQ ID NO: 19) 3′ sense.
 To clone rat eEF-2 kinases, PCR was performed on a rat PC12 cDNA library cloned in λGT10 (CLONTECH) using primer B and vector primers. A 700-bp fragment was specifically amplified. The fragment was cloned into pCR2.1 (Invitrogen) and sequenced. This 700-bp fragments was radiolabeled and used to probe the same PC12 cDNA library (600,000 plaques). Fourteen positives were obtained in the initial screening. Five plaques were chosen for further analysis and sequencing based on insert sizes that ranged from 1.4 to 2.0 kb.
 Recently, eEF-2 kinase from rabbit reticulocyte lysate was purified to near homogeneity (Hait et al., (1996)). This enabled determination of its partial amino acid sequence (see EXAMPLE 1). Two peptide sequences (LTPQAFSHFTFER and LANXYYEKAE) were compared with entries in a nonredundant database using the National Center for Biotechnology Information BLAST program (Altschul et al., (1990) J. Mol. Biol. 215:403-410). Matches were found with a C. elegans hypothetical protein (F42A10.4; GenBank accession number U10414). This sequence was obtained from the C. elegans genome sequencing project and is located on chromosome III (Wilson et al., (1994) Nature 368:32-38). The 100% identity between the sequenced peptides and the C. elegans protein, as well as the fact that the predicted molecular weight of the C. elegans protein is similar to that of eEF-2 kinase, suggested that this gene encoded eEF-2 kinase. We cloned the full-length cDNA by RT-PCR using C. elegans total RNA. Several clones were isolated and sequenced. Cefk-1 has six of the predicted exons and encodes 768 amino acids. Cefk-2 represents an alternatively spliced form that has five exons; it is missing amino acids 625-632 that correspond to exon four.
 As is demonstrated in EXAMPLE 3, Cefk-1 and Cefk-2 have eEF-2 kinase activity when expressed in cell-free system using a wheat germ extract coupled transcription/translation system.
 To determine the amino acid sequence of mammalian eEF-2 kinase, we cloned and sequenced the cDNA of mouse eEF-2 kinase. We reasoned that since the sequenced peptides from rabbit eEF-2 were 100% identical to C. elegans eEF-2 kinase, then the two peptides should also match the sequence of mouse eEF-2 kinase. Degenerate primers were designed based on the amino acid sequence of the peptides and were used to perform RT-PCR on mouse spleen poly(A)+ mRNA. A single PCR product of ˜1.6 kb was obtained and sequenced. To obtain the full-length cDNA, 5′ RACE and 3′ RACE were performed using mouse spleen cDNA. The full-length cDNA, which encodes 724 amino acids, was expressed in a cell-free coupled transcription/translation system. A single translation product with an apparent molecular weight of 100 kDa was obtained (FIG. 2).
 We next cloned and sequenced cDNA for rat eEF-2 kinase using a fragment of mouse eEF-2 kinase cDNA to probe a PC12 cDNA library. However, after this work was completed, a paper describing the cloning of eEF-2 from rat skeletal muscle was published (Redpath et al., (1996) J. Biol. Chem. 271:17547-17554) and the reported sequence appears to be identical to the eEF-2 kinase sequence from PC12 cells. Like the mouse eEF-2 kinase, the rat eEF-2 kinase cDNA encodes a 724-amino acid protein.
 We also cloned the human eEF-2 kinase cDNA. RT-PCR was performed on poly(A)+ mRNA from the human glioma cell line T98G using 20′mer primers corresponding to the 5′ and 3′ ends of the mouse eEF-2 kinase coding region. The human eEF-2 kinase cDNA encodes a 725 amino acid protein.
 Expression of eEF-2 Kinase from C. elegans, Mouse, Rat, and Human in a Cell-Free System. Plasmid DNA from clones Cefk-1, Cefk-2, as well as mouse and human eEF-2 kinase cDNA were used in the TNT wheat germ extract coupled transcription/translation system (Promega). [35S]Methionine-labeled products were then analyzed by SDS/PAGE. The reaction mixture (50 μl total volume) contained 1 μg of plasmid DNA and 26 μCi of [35S]methionine (specific activity=1175.0 Ci/mmol; 1 Ci=37 GBq). Other components were added to the reaction mixture according to the manufacturer's protocol. The reaction mixture was incubated for 1.5 h at 30° C. and terminated by incubation on ice. A 10 μl aliquot of the reaction mixture was mixed with 2 μl of 5× Laemmli buffer and boiled for 5 min. Samples were analyzed by SDS/PAGE on 8% gels and autoradiography.
 The remainder of the transcription/translation reaction was diluted 4-fold with buffer A (20 mM Tris-HCl, pH 7.4/1 mM MgCl2/10% glycerol/7 mM 2-mercaptoethanol) and applied to a HR5/5 Mono Q column (Pharmacia) equilibrated with buffer A. The column was developed with 20 column volumes of a 50-600 mM KCl linear gradient to buffer A.
 To assay for eEF-2 kinase activity, 5 Al from each fraction was added to a reaction mixture (40 μl) containing 50 mM Hepes-KOH (ph. 7.4) 10 mM magnesium acetate, 0.1 mM CaCl2, 5 mM dithiothreitol, 50 μM ATP, 2 μCi [γ-32P]ATP, 0.6 μg calmodulin, and 0.5 μg rabbit reticulocyte eEF-2. Reactions were incubated at 30° C. for 2 min and were terminated by adding 20 μl of 3×0 Laemmli sample buffer. Samples were boiled for 5 min and proteins separated by SDS/PAGE on 8% gels. Phosphoproteins were analyzed by autoradiography.
 To determine whether Cefk-1 and Cefk-2 have eEF-2 kinase activity, we expressed them in a cell-free coupled transcription/translation system. Translation of Cefk-1 and Cefk-2 produced products with an apparent molecular weight of 100 kDa (FIG. 2), which is slightly larger than the computer-predicted molecular weight of the protein but is identical to the molecular weight of a rabbit reticulocyte eEF-2 kinase as determined by SDS/PAGE. The translation products of the mixture of Cefk-1 and Cefk-2 are able to phosphorylate eEF-2 (FIG. 3) and elute from a Mono Q column at the same position as endogenous C. elegans eEF-2 kinase (FIG. 3A). The eEF-2 phosphorylation activity of the recombinant protein is Ca2+/calmodulin-dependant (FIG. 3C). We are currently studying whether there are differences in the catalytic properties Cefk-1 and Cefk-2 isoforms.
 Mouse and human eEF-2 kinase cDNAs were expressed in a coupled transcription/translation system and a product of −100 kDa was obtained (FIG. 2). As shown in FIG. 3, the recombinant human eEF-2 kinase activity was strictly Ca2+/calmodulin-dependant. The kinase activity was completely inhibited by the calmodulin antagonists trifluoperazine and N-(6-aminohexyl)-5-chloro-1-napthalene-sulfonamide. We have recently expressed human eEF-2 kinase in bacteria as a glutathione S-transferase fusion protein and demonstrated that the ability of the recombinant enzyme to phosphorylate eEF-2 and to undergo autophosphorylation are strictly calmodulin-dependent (data not shown).
 Analysis of Mouse eEF-2 Kinase mRNA Expression in Various Tissues. eEF-2 kinase and eEF-2 hybridizations were performed using a 1.6 kb EcoRI mouse cDNA fragment and a 2.6 kb EcoRI human cDNA fragment, respectively. cDNAs were labeled with [32P]dCTP using the random-primed DNA labeling method (Feinberg and Vogelstein (1983) Anal. Biochem. 132:6-13). A multiple tissue Northern blot (CLONETECH) was prehybridized at 42° C. for 16 h in a 50% formamide solution containing 10× Denhardt's, 5× SSPE, 2% SDS, and 100 μg/ml salmon sperm DNA. Hybridizations were completed in the same solution containing the 32P-labeled probe (1×106 cpm/ml; specific activity, ˜1×108 dpm/μg DNA) and 10% dextran sulfate at 42° C. for 16 h. Blots were washed twice at room temperature (15 min) in 2× SSPE, 0.05% SDS, and once at 50° C. (15 min) in 0.5× SSPE, 0.5% SDS. RNA/cDNA hybrids were visualized by autoradiography.
 Northern blot analysis shows that eEF-2 kinase is ubiquitously expressed in mouse tissues and is particularly abundant in skeletal muscle and heart (FIG. 4). The abundance of eEF-2 kinase mRNA in muscle tissues may indicate that phosphorylation of eEF-2 is particularly important in muscle, or that there are additional substrates of eEF-2 kinase which are muscle-specific.
 Lack of Homology of eEF-2 Kinase to Members of Eukaryotic Protein Kinase Superfamily. The alignment of the amino acid sequences of C. elegans and mammalian eEF-2 kinases is shown in FIG. 5. Rat and mouse eEF-2 kinase are very similar being 97% identical and differing by only 23 amino acids. Human eEF-2 kinase is 90% identical to mouse and rat eEF-2 kinase. In contrast, C. elegans eEF-2 kinase is found to be only 40% identical to mammalian eEF-2 kinase.
 According to the current classification, eEF-2 kinase belongs to the family of closely related calmodulin-dependent protein kinases. Surprisingly, upon analyzing eEF-2 kinase sequences, we did not find any homology to the other calmodulin-dependent kinases or to any other members of the protein kinase super-family. The only motif which it shares with all other protein kinases is the GXGXXG motif (279-284 in C. elegans eEF-2 kinases; 295-300 in mouse eEF-2 kinase) which forms a glycine-rich loop and is part of the ATP-binding site. Comparison of mammalian and C. elegans eEF-2 kinase revealed only one extended region of homology that spans ˜200 amino acids upstream of the GXGXXG motif. The high degree of similarity and the proximity to the nucleotide-binding site suggests that these 200 amino acids represent the catalytic domain. This region has a high degree of similarity and a portion of this region (amino acids 251-300 in mouse eEF-2 kinase) displays 75% identity to the catalytic domain of MHCKA (see below), which also suggests that this is the catalytic domain. In the recently published rat eEF-2 kinase sequence [Redpath et al., J. Biol. Chem. 271: 17547-17554 (1996)], the catalytic domain was predicted to reside between amino acids 288 and 554 based on the homology with the catalytic domain of cAMP-dependant protein kinase (PKA). Our results demonstrate that their prediction cannot be correct for several reasons. First, we find that the homology of this region with PKA is not statistically significant. Second, this region is the least conserved between mammalian and C. elegans eEF-2 kinase. Finally, according to secondary structure predictions [made by Alexei V. Finkelstein, Institute of Protein Research, Russia using the ALB-GLOBULE program [Ptitsyn and Finkelstein, Biopolymers 22:15-25 (1983)]], this region most likely has a distorted structure and contains almost no α-helices or β-strands, which are characteristic of a catalytic domain.
 Because eEF-2 kinase is CA2+/calmodulin-dependant, it should contain a calmodulin-binding domain, which is usually represented by an amphipathic α-helix. There are several regions that could possibly assume an amphipathic α-helical conformation. Further biochemical analysis is required to determine which of these is the calmodulin-binding domain.
 In the C-terminal region, there is a short stretch of 22 amino acids which is 86% identical between mammalian and C. elegans eEF-2 kinase and is preceded by a longer region of weak homology. We do not know the function of this conserved region at present. One of the possibilities is that it is that it is involved in oligomerization of the kinase. It was thought previously that eEF-2 kinase was an elongated monomer because it migrated during gel filtration as an ˜150-kDa protein and migrated on SDS gels as a 105-kDa polypeptide [Ryazanov and Spirin, Translational Regulation of Gene Expression, Pienum, N.Y., Vol 2, pp 433-455 (1993); Abdelnajid et al., Int. J. Dev. Biol., 37:279-290 (1993)]. However, the molecular weight of a monomer of mammalian eEF-2 kinase based on the predicted sequence is just 82 kDa. Thus, it is possible that eEF-2 kinase is not a monomer but a responsible for dimerization. Interestingly, according to computer prediction using the COIL program, this conserved region can form a coiled-coil. Formation of coiled-coil is often responsible for dimerization [Lupas, Trends Biochem. Sci., 21:375-382 (1996)].
 Striking Homology Between eEF-2 Kinase and MHCK A from Dictyostelium. We found that eEF-2 kinases is homologous to the central portion of the recently described MHCKA from Dictyostelium [Futey et al., J. Biol. Chem. 270:523-529 (1995) see FIG. 5]. The kinase was biochemically identified as a 130-kDa protein and has a demonstrated role in myosin assembly, both in vitro and in vivo [Futey et al., 1995, supra]. As with eEF-2 kinase, MHCKA displays no region with detectable similarity to the conserved catalytic domains found in known eukaryotic protein kinases. Primary structure analysis of MHCKA revealed an amino-terminal domain with a probable coiled-coil structure, a central nonrepetitive domain, and a C-terminal domain consisting of seven WD repeats [Futey et al., 1995, supra]. A fragment of the central nonrepetitive domain of MHCKA containing amino acids 552-841 was recently shown to represent the catalytic domain [Cote et al., J. Biol. Chem. 272:6846-6849 (1997)].
 Because the catalytic domain of MHCKA and eEF-2 kinase have a high degree of similarity, the substrate specificity of these two kinases was assayed. FIG. 6 shows that MHCK A cannot phosphorylate eEF-2, and likewise, rabbit eEF-2 kinase cannot use myosin heavy chains as a substrate. This demonstrated that each of these kinases is specific for their respective substrates.
 eEF-2 Kinase and MHCK A Define a New Class of Protein Kinases. Members of the eukaryotic protein kinase superfamily are characterized by a conserved catalytic domain containing approximately 260 amino acids and is divided into twelve subdomains [Hanks and Hunter, FASEB J., 9:576-596 (1996); Hardie and Hanks, The Protein Kinase Facts Book, Academic, London (1995), Taylor et al., Annu. Rev. Cell Biol. 8:429-462 (1992) Johnson et al., Cell. 85: 149-158 (1996)]. The three-dimensional structure of several protein kinases revealed that the catalytic domain consists of two lobes. The smaller N-terminal lobe, which has a twisted β-sheet structure, represents the ATP-binding domain. The larger C-terminal lobe, which is predominantly α-helical is involved in substrate binding. At the primary structure level, the only motif similar between eEF-2 kinase, MHCK A, and other protein kinases is the GXGXXG motif which forms the loop interacting directly with the phosphates of ATP [Hanks and Hunter, 1996, supra; Hardie and Hanks 1995, supra; Taylor et al., supra]. In eukaryotic protein kinases, this motif is located at the very N terminus of the ATP-binding lobe of the catalytic domain. In contrast, in a eEF-2 kinase and MHCK A, this motif is close to the C terminus of the catalytic domain (see FIG. 7). However, the overall topology of the ATP-binding subdomain of eEF-2 kinase and MHCK A can be similar to other protein kinases because the region upstream of the GXGXXG motif is strongly predicted to contain four or five β-strands and thus can form a twisted β-sheet.
 However, the mechanism of ATP-binding to eEF-2 kinase is probably quite different in comparison to other conventional members of the eukaryotic protein kinase superfamily. In protein kinases, there is a conserved lysine residue, corresponding to Lys-72 in cAMP-dependant protein kinases which binds to the β- and γ-phosphates of ATP and is located at about 20 amino acids downstream of the GXGXXG motif. Analysis of eEF-2 kinase and MHCK A sequences revealed that there are no conserved lysine residues in the vicinity of the GXGXXG motif. There is another atypical protein kinase, BCR-ABLE, which does not contain this conserved lysine and it is proposed that it interacts with ATP via two cysteine residues [Maro and Witte, Cell, 67:459-468 (1991)]. Interestingly, eEF-2 kinase and MHCK-A contain two conserved cysteine residues (Cys-313 and Cys-317 in mouse eEF-2 kinase) which are located near the GXGXXG motif and therefore might be involved in ATP binding. Thus the mechanism of ATP-binding of eEF-2 kinase and MHCK A is different from other members of the protein kinase superfamily, but may be similar to that of the BCR-ABLE protein kinase.
 The overall catalytic mechanism of eEF-2 kinase and MHCKA is probably also very different from other eukaryotic protein kinases. All members of the eukaryotic protein kinase superfamily contain a DXXXN motif in the catalytic loop and a DFG motif in the activation segment [Hanks and Hunter, 1996; supra, Hardie and Hanks 1995, supra; Taylor et al., supra; Johnson et al., 1996, supra]. These two motifs, which are directly involved in the catalysis of the protein phosphorylation reaction, are absent from the eEF-2 kinase and MHCK A catalytic domain.
 We do not know at the present time whether there are other protein kinases which are structurally similar to eEF-2 kinase and MHCK A. An extensive search of the entire nonrestricted database of the National Center for Biotechnology Information using the BLAST program did not reveal any protein with a significant homology to the catalytic domain of eEF-2 kinase and MHCKA. A search of the Expressed Sequence Tag (EST) database revealed several ESTs from C. elegans, mouse and human which are essentially identical to portions of eEF-2 kinase cDNA sequences reported here. Interestingly, a search of the recently completed genome database of Saccharomyces cerevisiae did not reveal any protein with homology to eEF-2 kinase despite the fact that eEF-2 phosphorylation was reported in yeast (41).
 Conclusion. Since the catalytic domains of eEF-2 kinase and MHCK A do not share homology with other known protein kinases, these two protein kinases establish the presence of a novel and widespread superfamily of eukaryotic protein kinases. Although the existence of several unusual protein kinases have been reported, to our knowledge, we demonstrate for the first time the existence of a biochemically well-characterized and ubiquitous protein kinase that is structurally unrelated to other serine/threonine/tyrosine kinases. Contrary to the widely accepted belief that all eukaryotic protein kinases evolved from a single ancestor, our results suggest that eukaryotic protein kinases appeared at least twice during the course of evolution. This also suggests that. in addition to the relatively well-characterized catalytic mechanism employed by members of eukaryotic serine/threonine/tyrosine protein kinase superfamily, there exists another mechanism of protein kinase superfamily, there exists another mechanism of protein phosphorylation. Further studies will reveal the molecular details of this mechanism and whether there are other protein kinases that phosphorylate their substrates using this mechanism.
 Preparation of recombinant eEF-2 kinase fusion proteins with GST, 6xHis, and thioredoxin. Human eEF-2 kinase cDNA was cloned into three different expression vectors: pGEX-2T (Pharmacia Biotech, Piscataway, N.J.); pRSET A (Invitrogen, Sorrento Valley, Calif.); and, pThioHisB (Invitrogen). After transformation into Escherichia coli strain BL21(DE3), transformants were cultured in LB broth containing 50 μg/ml ampicillin. When the cultured reached an A600 value of 0.7, isopropyl-β-thiogalactopyranoside (IPTG) was added to the bacterial cultures to a final concentration of 0.5 μM to induce expression. After three hours, the cultures were harvested by centrifugation, and the cells were then sonicated. After extract preparation and analysis by SDS-PAGE, it was found that all of the expressed tag forms of the eEF-2 kinase were in inclusion bodies. Inclusion bodies were precipitated, dissolved in 8.0 M urea, and dialyzed overnight against 20 mM Tris-HCl (ph. 7.0) buffer containing 100 mM NaCl and 4 mM ρ-mercaptoethanol. The refolded protein was analyzed by SDS-PAGE and assayed for the ability to phosphorylate eEF-2. All of the fusion eEF-2 kinase preparations were able to efficiently phosphorylate eEF-2 (data not shown).
 eEF-2 Kinase Activity Assay Using a 16-Amino Acid Peptide Derived from Myosin Heavy Chain as the Phosphorylation Target. We found that 16′mer peptide, RKKFGESEKTKTKEFL, can serve as a good substrate for eEF-2 kinase. (Note: circular dichroism measurements (data not shown) indicated that this peptide is in an α-helical structure, and that amidation of the peptide further stabilizes the α-helical structure, resulting in stronger phosphoacceptor activity.) Since recombinant eEF-2 is impossible to overexpress, as discussed supra, and large amounts of the protein are required to for large scale screening assays, the discovery of a peptide (easily synthesized on a large scale) that exhibits the same phosphoacceptor activity as eEF-2 was the critical breakthrough that allows for the development of a variety of automated high throughput screening assays for screening drug candidates.
 The basic assay is as follows: 0.2-10.0 μg of recombinant eEF-2 kinase (produced as described in EXAMPLE 6) is incubated with the 16′mer peptide (described above) in a buffer consisting of 12.5 mM Hepes-KOH (ph. 7.4), 2.5 mM magnesium acetate, 1.25 mM DTT, 25 μM CaCl2, 0.05-2.5 μg calmodulin, 100 μM ATP, and 0.5 μCi [γ-33P]ATP in a total volume of 5-250 μl. Samples are incubated at 30° C. and aliquots can be withdrawn at various time points or at a single end point, and the reaction terminated by lowering the temperature (<4° C.). The aliquots are then spotted onto phosphocellulose paper (2 cm×2 cm) and washed (4×4 min) with 75 mM phosphoric acid. The papers are then rinsed with 100% ethanol, dried, and then counted in a scintillation counter. The assay can be performed at various peptide concentrations, as we did in the experiment illustrated in FIG. 8. Clearly for a high throughput drug screening assay, that would be amenable to automation, the assays would most likely be performed using one peptide concentration with increasing amounts of different drug (inhibitor) candidates, and the data collected at a single time point. The assay can be performed in any one of the following formats:
 1. with [γ-32P]ATP or [γ-33P]ATP and then detected using either standard scintillation counting, or detected in the format of a homogeneous assay using a Scintillation Proximity Assay, described in detail in both the Amersham Product Catalog (1997), pp. 252-258, and U.S. Pat. No. 4,568,649;
 2. in any of a number of standard immunoassay formats using antibodies that are specific for the phosphorylated form of the 16′mer peptide. Detection would then be, as described in more detail supra, through the use of either isotopically- or nonisotopically-labeled antibodies, secondary antibodies, or 16′mer peptide.
 While the invention has been described and illustrated herein by references to various specific material, procedures and examples, it is understood that the invention is not restricted to the particular material combinations of material, and procedures selected for that purpose. Numerous variations of such details can be implied as will be appreciated by those skilled in the art.