PloS one

LZAP inhibits p38 MAPK (p38) phosphorylation and activity by facilitating p38 association with the wild-type p53 induced phosphatase 1 (WIP1).

PMID 21283629


LZAP (Cdk5rap3, C53) is a putative tumor suppressor that inhibits RelA, Chk1 and Chk2 and activates p53. LZAP is lost in a portion of human head and neck squamous cell carcinoma and experimental loss of LZAP expression is associated with enhanced invasion, xenograft tumor growth and angiogenesis. p38 MAPK can increase or decrease proliferation and cell death depending on cellular context. LZAP has no known enzymatic activity, implying that its biological functions are likely mediated by its protein-protein interactions. To gain further insight into LZAP activities, we searched for LZAP-associated proteins (LAPs). Here we show that the LZAP binds p38, alters p38 cellular localization, and inhibits basal and cytokine-stimulated p38 activity. Expression of LZAP inhibits p38 phosphorylation in a dose-dependent fashion while loss of LZAP enhances phosphorylation and activation with resultant phosphorylation of p38 downstream targets. Mechanistically, the ability of LZAP to alter p38 phosphorylation depended, at least partially, on the p38 phosphatase, Wip1. Expression of LZAP increased both LZAP and Wip1 binding to p38. Taken together, these data suggest that LZAP activity includes inhibition of p38 phosphorylation and activation.