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J Biol Chem. 2008 May 9;283(19):13261-8. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M801474200. Epub 2008 Feb 28.

Phosphorylation of MEKK3 at threonine 294 promotes 14-3-3 association to inhibit nuclear factor kappaB activation.

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  • 1Department of Biology, York University, Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3, Canada.


The protein kinase MEKK3 is essential for tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha)- and lipopolysaccharide-induced activation of nuclear factor kappaB, although the mechanism by which TNF receptor 1 and Toll-like receptors regulate MEKK3 is largely unknown. In this study we have identified MEKK3 Thr(294) as a novel site of phosphorylation that regulates MEKK3 binding with 14-3-3. Phosphorylation of MEKK3 at Thr(294) was observed for both endogenous and ectopically expressed MEKK3. Mutation of Thr(294) to alanine abolished 14-3-3-MEKK3 association and incubation with phosphorylated peptides mimicking Thr(P)(294) competed for 14-3-3 binding. Mutation of Thr(294) did not alter Ser(526) phosphorylation within the activation loop. However, expression of T294A MEKK3 elevated TNFalpha-stimulated NF-kappaB transcriptional activity, suggesting that Thr(294) phosphorylation and 14-3-3 binding negatively regulate MEKK3. Stimulation with TNFalpha or lipopolysaccharide caused a rapid decrease in Thr(294) phosphorylation of endogenous MEKK3 and subsequent loss of 14-3-3 association. Thus, this study identifies a potentially important regulatory step in MEKK3 signaling via dephosphorylation of Thr(294), which reduces 14-3-3 binding correlating with MEKK3 pathway activation.

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