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J Biol Chem. 1999 Oct 1;274(40):28803-7.

Isolation of the protein kinase TAO2 and identification of its mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase kinase binding domain.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas 75235-9041, USA.


We previously reported the cloning of the thousand and one-amino acid protein kinase 1 (TAO1), a rat homolog of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae protein kinase sterile 20 protein. Here we report the complete sequence and properties of a related rat protein kinase TAO2. Like TAO1, recombinant TAO2 selectively activated mitogen-activated protein/extracellular signal-regulated kinase kinases (MEKs) 3, 4, and 6 of the stress-responsive mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways in vitro and copurified with MEK3 endogenous to Sf9 cells. To examine TAO2 interactions with MEKs, the MEK binding domain of TAO2 was localized to an approximately 135-residue sequence just C-terminal to the TAO2 catalytic domain. In vitro this MEK binding domain associated with MEKs 3 and 6 but not MEKs 1, 2, or 4. Using chimeric MEK proteins, we found that the MEK N terminus was sufficient for binding to TAO2. Catalytic activity of full-length TAO2 enhanced its binding to MEKs. However, neither the autophosphorylation of the MEK binding domain of TAO2 nor the activity of MEK itself was required for MEK binding. These results suggest that TAO proteins lie in stress-sensitive kinase cascades and define a mechanism by which these kinases may organize downstream targets.

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