Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Theor Biol. 2007 Jun 21;246(4):604-20. Epub 2007 Jan 14.

The potential for signal integration and processing in interacting MAP kinase cascades.

Author information

  • 1Department of Biostatistics, Bioinformatics, and Epidemiology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC 29425, USA.


The cellular response to environmental stimuli requires biochemical information processing through which sensory inputs and cellular status are integrated and translated into appropriate responses by way of interacting networks of enzymes. One such network, the mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase cascade is a highly conserved signal transduction module that propagates signals from cell surface receptors to various cytosolic and nuclear targets by way of a phosphorylation cascade. We have investigated the potential for signal processing within a network of interacting feed-forward kinase cascades typified by the MAP kinase cascade. A genetic algorithm was used to search for sets of kinetic parameters demonstrating representative key input-output patterns of interest. We discuss two of the networks identified in our study, one implementing the exclusive-or function (XOR) and another implementing what we refer to as an in-band detector (IBD) or two-sided threshold. These examples confirm the potential for logic and amplitude-dependent signal processing in interacting MAP kinase cascades demonstrating limited cross-talk. Specifically, the XOR function allows the network to respond to either one, but not both signals simultaneously, while the IBD permits the network to respond exclusively to signals within a given range of strength, and to suppress signals below as well as above this range. The solution to the XOR problem is interesting in that it requires only two interacting pathways, crosstalk at only one layer, and no feedback or explicit inhibition. These types of responses are not only biologically relevant but constitute signal processing modules that can be combined to create other logical functions and that, in contrast to amplification, cannot be achieved with a single cascade or with two non-interacting cascades. Our computational results revealed surprising similarities between experimental data describing the JNK/MKK4/MKK7 pathway and the solution for the IBD that evolved from the genetic algorithm. The evolved IBD not only exhibited the required non-monotonic signal strength-response, but also demonstrated transient and sustained responses that properly reflected the input signal strength, dependence on both of the MAPKKs for signaling, phosphorylation site preferences by each of the MAPKKs, and both activation and inhibition resulting from the overexpression of one of the MAPKKs.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk