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J Biol Chem. 2003 Aug 29;278(35):32662-72. Epub 2003 Jun 3.

A docking site in MKK4 mediates high affinity binding to JNK MAPKs and competes with similar docking sites in JNK substrates.

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  • 1Department of Developmental and Cell Biology, University of California, Irvine, California 92697, USA.


Specific docking interactions between MAPKs and their activating MAPK kinases (MKKs or MEKs) are crucial for efficient and accurate signal transmission. Here, we report the identification of a MAPK-docking site, or "D-site," in the N terminus of human MKK4/JNKK1. This docking site conforms to the consensus sequence for known D-sites in other MKKs and contains the first of the two cleavage sites for anthrax lethal factor protease that have been found in the N terminus of MKK4. This docking site was both necessary and sufficient for the high affinity binding of the MAPKs JNK1, JNK2, JNK3, p38 alpha, and p38 beta to MKK4. Mutations that altered conserved residues in this docking site reduced JNK/p38 binding. In addition, a peptide version of this docking site, as well as a peptide version of the JNK-binding site of the JIP-1 scaffold protein, inhibited both MKK4/JNK binding and MKK4-mediated phosphorylation of JNK1. These same peptides also inhibited JNK2-mediated phosphorylation of c-Jun and ATF2, suggesting that transcription factors, MKK4, and the JIP scaffold compete for docking to JNK. Finally, the selectivity of the MKK4, MEK1, and MEK2 D-sites for JNK versus ERK was quantified. The MEK1 and MEK2 D-sites displayed a strong selectivity for their cognate MAPK (ERK2) versus a non-cognate MAPK (JNK). In contrast, the MKK4 D-site exhibited only limited selectivity for JNK versus ERK.

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