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MAPK/ERK kinase kinase 3 (MEKK3) is a mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase (MAP3K) that functions upstream of the MAP kinases and IkappaB kinase. Phosphorylation is believed to be a critical component for MEKK3-dependent signal transduction, but little is known about the phosphorylation sites of this MAP3K. To address this question, point mutations were introduced in the activation loop (T-loop), substituting alanine for serine or threonine, and the mutants were transfected into HEK293 Epstein-Barr virus nuclear antigen cells. MEKK3-dependent activation of an NF-kappaB reporter gene as well as ERK, JNK, and p38 MAP kinases correlated with a requirement for serine at position 526. Constitutively active mutants of MEKK3, consisting of S526D and S526E, were capable of activating a NF-kappaB luciferase reporter gene as well as ERK and MEK, suggesting that a negative charge at Ser526 was necessary for MEKK3 activity and implicating Ser526 as a phosphorylation site. An antibody was developed that specifically recognized phospho-Ser526 of MEKK3 but did not recognize the S526A point mutant. The catalytically inactive (K391M) mutant of MEKK3 was not phosphorylated at Ser526, indicating that phosphorylation of Ser526 occurs via autophosphorylation. Endogenous MEKK3 was phosphorylated on Ser526 in response to osmotic stress. In addition, phosphorylation of Ser526 was required for MKK6 phosphorylation in vitro, whereas dephosphorylation of Ser526 was mediated by protein phosphatase 2A and sensitive to okadaic acid and sodium fluoride. Finally, the association between MEKK3 and 14-3-3 was dependent on Ser526 and prevented dephosphorylation of Ser526. In summary, Ser526 of MEKK3 is an autophosphorylation site within the T-loop that is regulated by PP2A and 14-3-3 proteins.
A key regulator of many kinase cascades, heterotrimeric protein serine/threonine phosphatase 2A (PP2A), is composed of catalytic (C), scaffold (A), and variable regulatory subunits (B, B', B'' gene families). In neuronal PC12 cells, PP2A acts predominantly as a gatekeeper of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) activity, as shown by inducible RNA interference of the Aalpha scaffolding subunit and PP2A inhibition by okadaic acid. Although okadaic acid potentiates Akt/protein kinase B and ERK phosphorylation in response to epidermal, basic fibroblast, or nerve growth factor, silencing of Aalpha paradoxically has the opposite effect. Epidermal growth factor receptor Tyr phosphorylation was unchanged following Aalpha knockdown, suggesting that chronic Akt and ERK hyperphosphorylation leads to compensatory down-regulation of signaling molecules upstream of Ras and blunted growth factor responses. Inducible exchange of wild-type Aalpha with a mutant with selective B' subunit binding deficiency implicated PP2A/B' heterotrimers as Akt modulators. Conversely, silencing of the B-family regulatory subunits Balpha and Bdelta led to hyperactivation of ERK stimulated by constitutively active MEK1. In vitro dephosphorylation assays further support a role for Balpha and Bdelta in targeting the PP2A heterotrimer to dephosphorylate and inactivate ERKs. Thus, receptor tyrosine kinase signaling cascades leading to Akt and ERK activation are modulated by PP2A holoenzymes with distinct regulatory properties.
Fibrocystin/polyductin (FPC), the gene product of PKHD1, is responsible for autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease (ARPKD). This disease is characterized by symmetrically large kidneys with ectasia of collecting ducts. In the kidney, FPC predominantly localizes to the apical domain of tubule cells, where it associates with the basal bodies/primary cilia; however, the functional role of this protein is still unknown. In this study, we established stable IMCD (mouse inner medullary collecting duct) cell lines, in which FPC was silenced by short hairpin RNA inhibition (shRNA). We showed that inhibition of FPC disrupted tubulomorphogenesis of IMCD cells grown in three-dimensional cultures. Pkhd1-silenced cells developed abnormalities in cell-cell contact, actin cytoskeleton organization, cell-ECM interactions, cell proliferation, and apoptosis, which may be mediated by dysregulation of extracellular-regulated kinase (ERK) and focal adhesion kinase (FAK) signaling. These alterations in cell function in vitro may explain the characteristics of ARPKD phenotypes in vivo.
Dysregulation of dopamine receptors (DARs) is believed to contribute to Parkinson disease (PD) pathology. G protein-coupled receptors (GPCR) undergo desensitization via activation-dependent phosphorylation by G protein-coupled receptor kinases (GRKs) followed by arrestin binding. Using quantitative Western blotting, we detected profound differences in the expression of arrestin2 and GRKs among four experimental groups of nonhuman primates: (1) normal, (2) parkinsonian, (3) parkinsonian treated with levodopa without or (4) with dyskinesia. Arrestin2 and GRK6 expression was significantly elevated in the MPTP-lesioned group in most brain regions; GRK2 was increased in caudal caudate and internal globus pallidus. Neither levodopa-treated group differed significantly from control. The only dyskinesia-specific change was an elevation of GRK3 in the ventral striatum of the dyskinetic group. Changes in arrestin and GRK expression in the MPTP group were accompanied by enhanced ERK activation and elevated total ERK expression, which were also reversed by L-DOPA. The data suggest the involvement of arrestins and GRKs in Parkinson disease pathology and the effects of levodopa treatment.
Estrogen receptor alpha (ER alpha) degradation is regulated by ubiquitination, but the signaling pathways that modulate ER alpha turnover are unknown. We found that extracellular signal-regulated kinase 7 (ERK7) preferentially enhances the destruction of ER alpha but not the related androgen receptor. Loss of ERK7 was correlated with breast cancer progression, and all ER alpha-positive breast tumors had decreased ERK7 expression compared to that found in normal breast tissue. In human breast cells, a dominant-negative ERK7 mutant decreased the rate of endogenous ER alpha degradation >4-fold in the presence of hormone and potentiated estrogen responsiveness. ERK7 targets the ER alpha ligand-binding domain for destruction by enhancing its ubiquitination. Thus, ERK7 is a novel regulator of estrogen responsiveness through its control of ER alpha turnover.