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Murine protein serine/threonine kinase 38 activates apoptosis signal-regulating kinase 1 via Thr 838 phosphorylation.

Jung H., Seong H.A., Ha H.

Murine protein serine/threonine kinase 38 (MPK38) is a member of the AMP-activated protein kinase-related serine/threonine kinase family that plays an important role in various cellular processes, including cell cycle, signaling pathways, and self-renewal of stem cells. Here we demonstrate a functional association between MPK38 and apoptosis signal-regulating kinase 1 (ASK1). The physical association between MPK38 and ASK1 was mediated through their carboxyl-terminal regulatory domains and was increased by H(2)O(2) or tumor necrosis factor alpha treatment. The use of kinase-dead MPK38 and ASK1 mutants revealed that MPK38-ASK1 complex formation was dependent on the activities of both kinases. Ectopic expression of wild-type MPK38, but not kinase-dead MPK38, stimulated ASK1 activity by Thr(838) phosphorylation and enhanced ASK1-mediated signaling to both JNK and p38 kinases. However, the phosphorylation of MKK6 and p38 by MPK38 was not detectable. In addition, MPK38-mediated ASK1 activation was induced through the increased interaction between ASK1 and its substrate MKK3. MPK38 also stimulated H(2)O(2)-mediated apoptosis by enhancing the ASK1 activity through Thr(838) phosphorylation. These results suggest that MPK38 physically interacts with ASK1 in vivo and acts as a positive upstream regulator of ASK1.

J. Biol. Chem. 283:34541-34553(2008) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]