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J Biol Chem. 1999 May 7;274(19):13133-8.

Hematopoietic progenitor kinase 1 is a component of transforming growth factor beta-induced c-Jun N-terminal kinase signaling cascade.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


The c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) signaling pathway is involved in transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) signaling in a variety of cell systems. We report here that hematopoietic progenitor kinase 1 (HPK1), a novel Ste20-like protein serine/threonine kinase, serves as an upstream mediator for the TGF-beta-activated JNK1 cascade in 293T cells. TGF-beta treatment resulted in a time-dependent activation of HPK1, which was accompanied by similar kinetics of JNK1 activation. The activation of JNK1 by TGF-beta was abrogated by a kinase-defective HPK1 mutant but not by a kinase-defective mutant of kinase homologous to Ste20/Sps1. This result indicates that HPK1 is specifically required for TGF-beta-induced activation of JNK1. We also found that TGF-beta-induced JNK1 activation was blocked by a kinase-defective mutant of TGF-beta-activated kinase 1 (TAK1). In addition, interaction between HPK1 and TAK1 was observed in transient transfection assays, and this interaction was enhanced by TGF-beta treatment. Both stress-activated protein kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase kinase (SEK) and mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 7 (MKK7) are immediate upstream activators of JNK1. Although SEK and MKK7 acted downstream of TAK1, only a kinase-defective SEK mutant blocked TGF-beta-induced activation of JNK1, indicating that the TGF-beta signal is relayed solely through SEK, but not MKK7, in vivo. Furthermore, TGF-beta-induced activating protein 1 activation was blocked by a HPK1 mutant, as well as by TAK1 and SEK mutants. Taken together, these studies establish a potential cascade of TGF-beta-activated interacting kinases beginning with HPK1, a Ste20 homolog, and ending in JNK1 activation: HPK1 --> TAK1 --> SEK --> JNK1.

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