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J Biol Chem. 2001 Jun 29;276(26):24396-400. Epub 2001 Apr 25.

An evolutionarily conserved motif in the TAB1 C-terminal region is necessary for interaction with and activation of TAK1 MAPKKK.

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Chugai Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., Fuji-Gotemba Research Laboratories, Shizuoka 412-8513, Japan.


TAK1, a member of the MAPKKK family, is involved in the intracellular signaling pathways mediated by transforming growth factor beta, interleukin 1, and Wnt. TAK1 kinase activity is specifically activated by the TAK1-binding protein TAB1. The C-terminal 68-amino acid sequence of TAB1 (TAB1-C68) is sufficient for TAK1 interaction and activation. Analysis of various truncated versions of TAB1-C68 defined a C-terminal 30-amino acid sequence (TAB1-C30) necessary for TAK1 binding and activation. NMR studies revealed that the TAB1-C30 region has a unique alpha-helical structure. We identified a conserved sequence motif, PYVDXA/TXF, in the C-terminal domain of mammalian TAB1, Xenopus TAB1, and its Caenorhabditis elegans homolog TAP-1, suggesting that this motif constitutes a specific TAK1 docking site. Alanine substitution mutagenesis showed that TAB1 Phe-484, located in the conserved motif, is crucial for TAK1 binding and activation. The C. elegans homolog of TAB1, TAP-1, was able to interact with and activate the C. elegans homolog of TAK1, MOM-4. However, the site in TAP-1 corresponding to Phe-484 of TAB1 is an alanine residue (Ala-364), and changing this residue to Phe abrogates the ability of TAP-1 to interact with and activate MOM-4. These results suggest that the Phe or Ala residue within the conserved motif of the TAB1-related proteins is important for interaction with and activation of specific TAK1 MAPKKK family members in vivo.

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