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Activation of MK5/PRAK by the atypical MAP kinase ERK3 defines a novel signal transduction pathway.

Seternes OM, Mikalsen T, Johansen B, Michaelsen E, Armstrong CG, Morrice NA, Turgeon B, Meloche S, Moens U, Keyse SM

Department of Pharmacology, Institute of Medical Biology, University of Tromsø, Tromsø, Norway.

Extracellular signal-regulated kinase 3 (ERK3) is an atypical mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), which is regulated by protein stability. However, its function is unknown and no physiological substrates for ERK3 have yet been identified. Here we demonstrate a specific interaction between ERK3 and MAPK-activated protein kinase-5 (MK5). Binding results in nuclear exclusion of both ERK3 and MK5 and is accompanied by ERK3-dependent phosphorylation and activation of MK5 in vitro and in vivo. Endogenous MK5 activity is significantly reduced by siRNA-mediated knockdown of ERK3 and also in fibroblasts derived from ERK3-/- mice. Furthermore, increased levels of ERK3 protein detected during nerve growth factor-induced differentiation of PC12 cells are accompanied by an increase in MK5 activity. Conversely, MK5 depletion causes a dramatic reduction in endogenous ERK3 levels. Our data identify the first physiological protein substrate for ERK3 and suggest a functional link between these kinases in which MK5 is a downstream target of ERK3, while MK5 acts as a chaperone for ERK3. Our findings provide valuable tools to further dissect the regulation and biological roles of both ERK3 and MK5.

EMBO J. 2004;23(24):4780-91.

Pubmed ID: 15577943

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