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J Biol Chem. 1998 Jul 17;273(29):18481-9.

Cloning and characterization of shk2, a gene encoding a novel p21-activated protein kinase from fission yeast.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


We describe the characterization of a novel gene, shk2, encoding a second p21(cdc42/rac)-activated protein kinase (PAK) homolog in fission yeast. Like other known PAKs, Shk2 binds to Cdc42 in vivo and in vitro. While overexpression of either shk2 or cdc42 alone does not impair growth of wild type fission yeast cells, cooverexpression of the two genes is toxic and leads to highly aberrant cell morphology, providing evidence for functional interaction between Cdc42 and Shk2 proteins in vivo. Fission yeast shk2 null mutants are viable and exhibit no obvious phenotypic defects. Overexpression of shk2 restores viability and normal morphology but not full mating competence to fission yeast cells carrying a shk1 null mutation. Additional genetic data suggest that Shk2, like Cdc42 and Shk1, participates in Ras-dependent morphological control and mating response pathways in fission yeast. We also show that overexpression of byr2, a gene encoding a Ste11/MAPK kinase kinase homolog, suppresses the mating defect of cells partially defective for Shk1 function, providing evidence of a link between PAKs and mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling in fission yeast. Taken together, our results suggest that Shk2 is partially overlapping in function with Shk1, with Shk1 being the dominant protein in function.

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