A Novel MAPK phosphatase MKP-7 acts preferentially on JNK/SAPK and p38 alpha and beta MAPKs.
Mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) are inactivated via dephosphorylation of either the threonine or tyrosine residue or both in the P-loop catalyzed by protein phosphatases which include serine/threonine phosphatases, tyrosine phosphatases, and dual specificity phosphatases. Nine members of the dual specificity phosphatases specific for MAPKs, termed MKPs, have been reported. Each member has its own substrate specificity, tissue distribution, and subcellular localization. In this study, we have cloned and characterized a novel MKP, designated MKP-7. MKP-7 is most similar to hVH5, a member of previously known MKPs, in the primary structure. MKP-7 is predominantly localized in the cytoplasm when expressed in cultured cells, whereas hVH5 is both in the nucleus and the cytoplasm. MKP-7 binds to and inactivates p38 MAPK and JNK/SAPK, but not ERK. Furthermore, we have found that MKPs have the substrate specificity toward the isoforms of the p38 family (alpha, beta, gamma, and delta). MKP-7 binds to and inactivates p38 alpha and -beta, but not gamma or delta. MKP-5 and CL100/MKP-1 also bind to p38 alpha and -beta, but not gamma or delta. Finally, we propose a tentative classification of MKPs based on the sequence characteristics of their MAPK-docking site.