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EMBO J. 2001 Feb 1;20(3):466-79.

Identification of a docking groove on ERK and p38 MAP kinases that regulates the specificity of docking interactions.

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Department of Biophysics, Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8502, Japan.


MAP kinases (MAPKs) form a complex with MAPK kinases (MAPKKs), MAPK-specific phosphatases (MKPs) and various targets including MAPKAPKs. These docking interactions contribute to regulation of the specificity and efficiency of the enzymatic reactions. We have previously identified a docking site on MAPKs, termed the CD (common docking) domain, which is utilized commonly for docking interactions with MAPKKs, MKPs and MAPKAPKs. However, the CD domain alone does not determine the docking specificity. Here we have identified a novel site on p38 and ERK2 MAPKs that regulates the docking specificity towards MAPKAPKs. Remarkably, exchange of two amino acids in this site of ERK2 for corresponding residues of p38 converted the docking specificity for MAPKAPK-3/3pk, which is a dominant target of p38, from the ERK2 type to the p38 type, and vice versa. Furthermore, our detailed analyses with a number of MAPKAPKs and MKPs suggest that a groove in the steric structure of MAPKs, which comprises the CD domain and the site identified here, serves as a common docking region for various MAPK-interacting molecules.

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