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J Biol Chem. 2002 Dec 20;277(51):49111-9. Epub 2002 Sep 18.

Fibroblast growth factor homologous factors and the islet brain-2 scaffold protein regulate activation of a stress-activated protein kinase.

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  • 1Department of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, 1 Gustave Levy Place, New York, NY 10029, USA.


Fibroblast growth factor homologous factors (FHFs) form native intracellular complexes with the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) scaffold protein islet-brain 2 (IB2) in adult brain. FHF binding to IB2 facilitates recruitment of the MAPK p38delta (SAPK4), while failing to stimulate binding of JNK, the preferred kinase of the related scaffold IB1 (JIP-1). We now report further biochemical evidence supporting FHFs as regulators of IB2 scaffold activity. Mixed lineage kinase 3 (MLK3) and IB2 synergistically activate p38delta but not the MAPKs JNK-1 and p38alpha. Binding of p38delta to IB2 is mediated by the carboxyl-terminal half of the scaffold (IB2(Delta1-436)). FHF2 also binds weakly to IB2(Delta1-436) and can thereby increase p38delta interaction with IB2(Delta1-436). FHF-induced recruitment of p38delta to IB2 is accompanied by increased levels of activated p38delta, and synergistic activation of p38delta by MLK3 and IB2 is further enhanced by FHF2. Consistent with a role for FHFs as signaling molecules, FHF2 isolated from rat brain is serine/threonine-phosphorylated, and FHF can serve as a substrate for p38delta in vitro. These results support the existence of a signaling module in which IB2 scaffolds a MLK3/MKK/p38delta kinase cascade. FHFs aid in recruitment of p38 to IB2 and may serve as kinase substrates.

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