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Biochemistry. 2000 Feb 29;39(8):2079-87.

Kinetic mechanism of the p38-alpha MAP kinase: phosphoryl transfer to synthetic peptides.

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Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., 130 Waverly Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139-4242, USA.


p38 is a member of the mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase family. Activation (phosphorylation) of p38 acts as a switch for the transcriptional and translational regulation of a number of proteins, including the proinflammatory cytokines. Investigation of a set of small peptides revealed that, as with protein substrates, p38-alpha behaves as a proline-directed Ser/Thr MAP kinase for a peptide substrate, peptide 4 (IPTSPITTTYFFFKKK). We investigated the steady-state kinetic mechanism of the p38-alpha-catalyzed kinase reaction with EGF receptor peptide, peptide 1, as a substrate. Lineweaver-Burk analysis of the substrate kinetics yielded a family of lines intersecting to the left of the ordinate, with either ATP or peptide 1 as the varied substrate. Kinetic analysis in the presence of ADP yielded a competitive inhibition pattern when ATP was the varied substrate and a noncompetitive pattern if peptide 1 was the varied substrate. At saturating peptide substrate concentrations, inhibition by phosphopeptide product yielded an uncompetitive pattern when ATP was the varied substrate. These data are consistent with ordered binding with ATP as the initial substrate. We provide further evidence of the existence of a productive p38.ATP binary complex in that (a) activated p38-alpha has intrinsic ATPase activity, (b) ATPase and kinase activities are coupled, and (c) inhibitors of ATPase activity also inhibit the kinase activity with a similar inhibition constant. The k(cat) for the kinase reaction was lowered by 1.8-fold when ATP-gamma-S was used. Microviscosity linearly affected the k(cat) values of both the ATP and ATP-gamma-S reactions with a slope of about 0.8. These observations were interpreted to mean that the phosphoryl transfer step is not rate-limiting and that the release of product and/or enzyme isomerization is a possible rate-limiting step(s).

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