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J Biol Chem. 2004 Nov 19;279(47):49488-96. Epub 2004 Sep 1.

The Traf2- and Nck-interacting kinase as a putative effector of Rap2 to regulate actin cytoskeleton.

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  • 1Division of Cell Biology, Graduate School of Medicine, University of the Ryukyus, 207 Uehara, Nishihara-cho, Okinawa 903-0215, Japan.


Rap2 belongs to the Ras family of small GTP-binding proteins, but its specific roles in cell signaling remain unknown. In the present study, we have affinity-purified from rat brain a Rap2-interacting protein of approximately 155 kDa, p155. By liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry, we have identified p155 as Traf2- and Nck-interacting kinase (TNIK). TNIK possesses an N-terminal kinase domain homologous to STE20, the Saccharomyces cerevisiae mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase kinase, and a C-terminal regulatory domain termed the citron homology (CNH) domain. TNIK induces disruption of F-actin structure, thereby inhibiting cell spreading. In addition, TNIK specifically activates the c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) pathway. Among our observations, TNIK interacted with Rap2 through its CNH domain but did not interact with Rap1 or Ras. TNIK interaction with Rap2 was dependent on the intact effector region and GTP-bound configuration of Rap2. When co-expressed in cultured cells, TNIK colocalized with Rap2, while a mutant TNIK lacking the CNH domain did not. Rap2 potently enhanced the inhibitory function of TNIK against cell spreading, but this was not observed for the mutant TNIK lacking the CNH domain. Rap2 did not significantly enhance TNIK-induced JNK activation, but promoted autophosphorylation and translocation of TNIK to the detergent-insoluble cytoskeletal fraction. These results suggest that TNIK is a specific effector of Rap2 to regulate actin cytoskeleton.

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