The activity of the extracellular signal-regulated kinase 2 is regulated by differential phosphorylation in the activation loop

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Abstract

The mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAP kinases) play a central role in signaling pathways initiated by extracellular stimuli such as growth factors, cytokines, and various forms of environmental stress. Full activation of the MAP kinases requires dual phosphorylation of the Thr and Tyr residues in the TXY motif of the activation loop by MAP kinase kinases. Interestingly, down-regulation of MAP kinase activity can be initiated by multiple Ser/Thr phosphatases, Tyr-specific phosphatases, and dual-specificity phosphatases. This would inevitable lead to the formation of monophosphorylated MAP kinases. However, in much of the literature investigating MAP kinase signaling, there has been the implicit assumption that the monophosphorylated forms are inactive. Thus, the significance for the need of multiple phosphatases in regulating MAP kinase activity is not clear, and the biological functions of these monophosphorylated MAP kinases are currently unknown. We have prepared extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase 2 (ERK2) in all phosphorylated forms and kinetically characterized them using two proteins (the myelin basic protein and Elk-1) and ATP as substrates. Our results revealed that a single phosphorylation in the activation loop of ERK2 produces an intermediate activity state. Thus, the catalytic efficiencies of the monophosphorylated ERK2/pY and ERK2/pT (ERK2 phosphorylated on Tyr-185 and Thr-183, respectively) are ∼2-3 orders of magnitude higher than that of the unphosphorylated ERK2 and are only 1-2 orders of magnitude lower than that of the fully active bisphosphorylated ERK2/pTpY. This raises the possibility that the monophosphorylated ERK2s may have distinct biological roles in vivo. Different phosphorylation states in the activation loop could be linked to graded effects on a single ERK2 function. Alternatively, they could be linked to distinct ERK2 functions. Although less active than the bisphosphorylated species, the monophosphorylated ERK2s may differentially phosphorylate pathway components.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13889-13899
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Volume277
Issue number16
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 19 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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