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J Biol Chem. 2001 Feb 16;276(7):5093-100. Epub 2000 Nov 9.

MEKK2 associates with the adapter protein Lad/RIBP and regulates the MEK5-BMK1/ERK5 pathway.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and University of Colorado Cancer Center, Denver, CO 80262, USA.


MEKK2 and MEKK3 are two closely related mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) kinase kinases. The kinase domains of MEKK2 and MEKK3 are nearly identical, although their N-terminal regulatory domains are significantly divergent. By yeast two-hybrid library screening, we have identified MEK5, the MAPK kinase in the big mitogen-activated protein kinase 1 (BMK1)/ERK5 pathway, as a binding partner for MEKK2. MEKK2 expression stimulates BMK1/ERK5 activity, the downstream substrate for MEK5. Compared with MEKK3, MEKK2 activated BMK1/ERK5 to a greater extent, which might correlate with a higher affinity MEKK2-MEK5 interaction. A dominant negative form of MEK5 blocked the activation of BMK1/ERK5 by MEKK2, whereas activation of c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) was unaffected, showing that MEK5 is a specific downstream effector of MEKK2 in the BMK1/ERK5 pathway. Activation of BMK1/ERK5 by epidermal growth factor and H2O2 in Cos7 and HEK293 cells was completely blocked by a kinase-inactive MEKK3 (MEKK3kin(-)), whereas MEKK2kin(-) had no effect. However, in D10 T cells, expression of MEKK2kin(-) but not MEKK3kin(-) inhibited BMK1/ERK5 activity. Two-hybrid screening also identified Lck-associated adapter/Rlk- and Itk-binding protein (Lad/RIBP), a T cell adapter protein, as a binding partner for MEKK2. MEKK2 and Lad/RIBP colocalize at the T cell contact site with antigen-loaded presenting cells, demonstrating cotranslocation of MEKK2 and Lad/RIBP during T cell activation. MEKK3 neither binds Lad/RIBP nor is recruited to the T cell contact with antigen presenting cell. MEKK2 and MEKK3 are differentially associated with signaling from specific upstream receptor systems, whereas both activate the MEK5-BMK1/ERK5 pathway.

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