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J Biol Chem. 2000 Jul 14;275(28):21688-94.

Myeloid cell leukemia 1 is phosphorylated through two distinct pathways, one associated with extracellular signal-regulated kinase activation and the other with G2/M accumulation or protein phosphatase 1/2A inhibition.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, New Hampshire 03755, USA.


Protein kinase C activators and microtubule-damaging drugs stimulate BCL2 phosphorylation, which has been associated with either enhancement or inhibition of cell viability. In a Burkitt lymphoma cell line, both types of agents likewise stimulated phosphorylation of myeloid cell leukemia 1 (MCL1), another viability-promoting BCL2 family member. However, while MCL1 phosphorylation induced by the protein kinase C activator, 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA), did not affect its electrophoretic mobility, microtubule-damaging agents, such as taxol, induced MCL1 phosphorylation associated with a band shift to decreased mobility. Inhibitors of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) activation blocked TPA-induced MCL1 phosphorylation but not the taxol-induced band shift. TPA-induced MCL1 phosphorylation occurred rapidly and was not associated with decreased viability, while the taxol-induced band shift occurred upon extended exposure as cells accumulated in G(2)/M followed by cell death. Protein phosphatase 1/2A inhibitors also induced the MCL1 band shift/phosphorylation. Thus, MCL1 undergoes two distinct types of phosphorylation: (i) TPA-induced, ERK-associated phosphorylation, which does not alter the electrophoretic mobility of MCL1, and (ii) ERK-independent phosphorylation, which results in an MCL1 band shift and is induced by events in G(2)/M or protein phosphatase 1/2A inhibitors.

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