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Eur J Biochem. 2000 Jul;267(14):4362-71.

Identification of a nuclear export signal in MKK6, an activator of the carp p38 mitogen-activated protein kinases.

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Division of Applied Biosciences, Graduate School of Agriculture, Department of Biophysics, Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University, Japan.


Carp homologues of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and its activator MAPK kinase 6 (MAPKK6, referred to as MKK6) were identified. There exist at least two distinct carp p38s, cp38a and cp38b, both of which consist of 361 amino acids. The transcript of c38a was exclusively expressed in the ovary, whereas that of cp38b was ubiquitously expressed. Western blot analysis with anti-(phosphorylated MAPK) Ig specific to the active p38 or JNK has shown that p38 was activated in response to hypertonic stress (1 M sorbitol) in epithelioma papilosum cyprini carp epithelial cells (EPC) and that the activation of p38 proceeded faster to the maximal level than that of JNK. Carp homologue (cMKK6) of p38 activator MKK6 consists of 404 amino acids. It was expressed ubiquitously but was most abundant in the ovary. An in vitro kinase assay demonstrated that cMKK6 is an upstream activator of cp38 and cp38b in carp because it specifically phosphorylated and activated cp38a and cp38b. Interestingly, we found that cMKK6 has a nuclear export signal (NES) sequence in its N-terminal region although upstream activators of stress-activated MAPKs, p38 and JNK, do not in other animals. The NES sequence facilitated nuclear export of cMKK6 and ovalbumin. Leucine residues in the sequence were crucial for the NES activity, as the activity was lost on replacement of the leucines to alanines. The existence of an NES in cMKK6 implies the requisite of strict regulation of the p38 MAPK pathway in carp. The abundance of these components for the stress-activated pathway in the ovary might be related to ectogenetic early development.

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