The Journal of biological chemistry

The mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphatases PAC1, MKP-1, and MKP-2 have unique substrate specificities and reduced activity in vivo toward the ERK2 sevenmaker mutation.

PMID 8626452


Mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases can be grouped into three structural families, ERK, JNK, and p38, which are thought to carry out unique functions within cells. We demonstrate that ERK, JNK, and p38 are activated by distinct combinations of stimuli in T cells that simulate full or partial activation through the T cell receptor. These kinases are regulated by reversible phosphorylation on Tyr and Thr, and the dual specific phosphatases PAC1 and MKP-1 previously have been implicated in the in vivo inactivation of ERK or of ERK and JNK, respectively. Here we characterize a new MAP kinase phosphatase, MKP-2, that is induced in human peripheral blood T cells with phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate and is expressed in a variety of nonhematopoietic tissues as well. We show that the in vivo substrate specificities of individual phosphatases are unique. PAC1, MKP-2, and MKP-1 recognize ERK and p38, ERK and JNK, and ERK, p38, and JNK, respectively. Thus, individual MAP kinase phosphatases can differentially regulate the potential for cross-talk between the various MAP kinase pathways. A hyperactive allele of ERK2 (D319N), analogous to the Drosophila sevenmaker gain-of-function mutation, has significantly reduced sensitivity to all three MAP kinase phosphatases in vivo.