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Dev Cell. 2007 Apr;12(4):615-29.

Mek1/2 MAPK kinases are essential for Mammalian development, homeostasis, and Raf-induced hyperplasia.

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  • 1Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Healthcare System, Palo Alto, CA 94304, USA.


The p42/p44 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascade includes Ras, Raf, Mek, and Erk MAPK. To determine the effect of a full knockout at a single level of this signaling pathway in mammals, and to investigate functional redundancy between Mek1 and Mek2, we disrupted these genes in murine and human epidermis. Loss of either protein alone produced no phenotype, whereas combined Mek1/2 deletion in development or adulthood abolished Erk1/2 phosphorylation and led to hypoproliferation, apoptosis, skin barrier defects, and death. Conversely, a single copy of either allele was sufficient for normal development. Combined Mek1/2 loss also abolished Raf-induced hyperproliferation. Human tissue deficient in either Mek isoform was normal, whereas loss of both proteins led to hypoplasia, which was rescued by active Erk2 expression. These data indicate that Mek1/2 are functionally redundant in the epidermis, where they act as a linear relay in the MAPK pathway to mediate development and homeostasis.

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