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Mol Cell Biol. 2004 Nov;24(21):9658-67.

Lipopolysaccharide activation of the TPL-2/MEK/extracellular signal-regulated kinase mitogen-activated protein kinase cascade is regulated by IkappaB kinase-induced proteolysis of NF-kappaB1 p105.

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  • 1National Institute for Medical Research, Division of Immune Cell Biology, The Ridgeway, Mill Hill, London NW7 1AA, United Kingdom.


The MEK kinase TPL-2 (also known as Cot) is required for lipopolysaccharide (LPS) activation of the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase cascade in macrophages and consequent upregulation of genes involved in innate immune responses. In resting cells, TPL-2 forms a stoichiometric complex with NF-kappaB1 p105, which negatively regulates its MEK kinase activity. Here, it is shown that lipopolysaccharide (LPS) stimulation of primary macrophages causes the release of both long and short forms of TPL-2 from p105 and that TPL-2 MEK kinase activity is restricted to this p105-free pool. Activation of TPL-2, MEK, and ERK by LPS is also demonstrated to require proteasome-mediated proteolysis. p105 is known to be proteolysed by the proteasome following stimulus-induced phosphorylation of two serines in its PEST region by the IkappaB kinase (IKK) complex. Expression of a p105 point mutant, which is not susceptible to signal-induced proteolysis, in RAW264.7 macrophages impairs LPS-induced release of TPL-2 from p105 and its subsequent activation of MEK. Furthermore, expression of wild-type but not mutant p105 reconstitutes LPS stimulation of MEK and ERK phosphorylation in primary NF-kappaB1-deficient macrophages. Consistently, pharmacological blockade of IKK inhibits LPS-induced release of TPL-2 from p105 and TPL-2 activation. These data show that IKK-induced p105 proteolysis is essential for LPS activation of TPL-2, thus revealing a novel function of IKK in the regulation of the ERK MAP kinase cascade.

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