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J Biol Chem. 2002 Jun 21;277(25):22942-9. Epub 2002 Apr 12.

Modular structure of a docking surface on MAPK phosphatases.

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Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, Graduate School of Biostudies, Kyoto University, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8502, Japan.


Mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) must be precisely inactivated to achieve proper functions in the cells. Ten members of dual specificity phosphatases specifically acting on MAPKs, termed MAPK phosphatases (MKPs), have been reported. Each member has its own substrate specificity that should be tightly regulated. However, the molecular mechanism underlying the regulation of the specificity is largely unknown. In the MAPK signaling pathways, docking interactions, which are different from transient enzyme-substrate interaction, are known to regulate the enzymatic specificity. Here we have identified and characterized a docking surface of MKPs. Our results show that a docking surface is composed of a tandem alignment of three subregions (modules): a cluster of positively charged amino acids, a cluster of hydrophobic amino acids, and a cluster of positively charged amino acids (positive-hydrophobic-positive). This modular structure well fits the docking groove on MAPKs that we have previously identified and may contribute to regulating the docking specificity of the MKP family. The position, number, and species of charged amino acids in each module including the central hydrophobic subregion are important factors in regulation of docking to specific MAPKs. This modular structure in the docking interaction may define a novel model of protein-protein interaction that would also regulate other systems.

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