Characterization of the structure and function of a novel MAP kinase kinase (MKK6).
Mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases require dual phosphorylation on threonine and tyrosine residues in order to gain enzymatic activity. This activation is carried out by a family of enzymes known as MAP kinase kinases (MKKs or MEKs). It appears that there are at least four subgroups in this family; MEK1/MEK2 subgroup that activates ERK1/ERK2, MEK5 that activates ERK5/BMK1, MKK3 that activates p38, and MKK4 that activates p38 and Jun kinase. Here we describe the characteristics of a new MKK termed MKK6. The clones we isolated encode two splice isoforms of human MKK6 comprised of 278 and 334 amino acids, respectively, and one murine MKK6 with 237 amino acids. Sequence information derived from cDNA cloning indicated that MKK6 is most closely related to MKK3. The functional data revealed from co-transfection assays suggests that MKK6, like MKK3, selectively phosphorylates p38. Unlike the previously described MKKs (or MEKs), MKK6 exists in a variety of alternatively spliced isoforms with distinct patterns of tissue expression. This suggests novel mechanisms regulating activation and/or function of various forms of MKK6.