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J Cell Biol. 2009 May 4;185(3):409-22. doi: 10.1083/jcb.200804038.

Erk1/2 MAP kinases are required for epidermal G2/M progression.

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  • 1Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System, Palo Alto, CA 94304, USA.


Erk1/2 mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) are often hyperactivated in human cancers, where they affect multiple processes, including proliferation. However, the effects of Erk1/2 loss in normal epithelial tissue, the setting of most extracellular signal-regulated kinase (Erk)-associated neoplasms, are unknown. In epidermis, loss of Erk1 or Erk2 individually has no effect, whereas simultaneous Erk1/2 depletion inhibits cell division, demonstrating that these MAPKs are necessary for normal tissue self-renewal. Growth inhibition caused by Erk1/2 loss is rescued by reintroducing Erk2, but not by activating Erk effectors that promote G1 cell cycle progression. Unlike fibroblasts, in which Erk1/2 loss decreases cyclin D1 expression and induces G1/S arrest, Erk1/2 loss in epithelial cells reduces cyclin B1 and c-Fos expression and induces G2/M arrest while disrupting a gene regulatory network centered on cyclin B1-Cdc2. Thus, the cell cycle stages at which Erk1/2 activity is required vary by cell type, with Erk1/2 functioning in epithelial cells to enable progression through G2/M.

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