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Circ Res. 2012 Feb 17;110(4):536-50. doi: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.111.254730. Epub 2012 Jan 19.

p90RSK targets the ERK5-CHIP ubiquitin E3 ligase activity in diabetic hearts and promotes cardiac apoptosis and dysfunction.

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  • 1University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Aab Cardiovascular Research Institute, 601 Elmwood Avenue, Rochester, NY 14642, USA.



Cardiomyocyte apoptosis is one of the key events in the development and progression of heart failure, and a crucial role for ICER (inducible cAMP early repressor) in this process has been previously reported. ERK5 is known to inhibit cardiac apoptosis after myocardial infarction (MI), especially in hyperglycemic states, via association with CHIP ubiquitin (Ub) ligase and subsequent upregulation of CHIP ligase activity, which induces ICER ubiquitination and subsequent protein degradation. The regulatory mechanism governing ERK5/CHIP interaction is unknown.


We previously demonstrated increased p90RSK activation in the diabetic heart. As a logical extension of this work, we now investigate whether p90RSK activation inhibits ERK5-mediated CHIP activation, and subsequently increases ICER levels and apoptosis.


p90RSK activation inhibits ERK5/CHIP association and CHIP Ub ligase activity. p90RSK and CHIP share a common binding site in the ERK5 C-terminal domain (aa571-807). Overexpression of either p90RSK or an ERK5 fragment (aa571-807) inhibits ERK5/CHIP association, suggesting that p90RSK and CHIP competes for ERK5 binding and that p90RSK activation is critical for inhibiting ERK5/CHIP interaction. We also identified ERK5-S496 as being directly phosphorylated by p90RSK and demonstrated that an ERK5-S496A mutant significantly impairs Angiotensin II-mediated inhibition of CHIP activity and subsequent increase in ICER levels. In vivo, either cardiac-specific depletion of ERK5 or overexpression of p90RSK inhibits CHIP activity and accelerates cardiac apoptosis after MI-a phenomenon fully reversible by activating ERK5.


These data suggest a role for p90RSK in inhibiting CHIP activity and promoting cardiac apoptosis through binding to and phosphorylation of ERK5-S496.

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