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J Biol Chem. 2008 Jul 11;283(28):19511-20. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M801074200. Epub 2008 May 15.

Substrate discrimination among mitogen-activated protein kinases through distinct docking sequence motifs.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06520, USA.


Mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) mediate cellular responses to a wide variety of extracellular stimuli. MAPK signal transduction cascades are tightly regulated, and individual MAPKs display exquisite specificity in recognition of their target substrates. All MAPK family members share a common phosphorylation site motif, raising questions as to how substrate specificity is achieved. Here we describe a peptide library screen to identify sequence requirements of the DEF site (docking site for ERK FXF), a docking motif separate from the phosphorylation site. We show that MAPK isoforms recognize DEF sites with unique sequences and identify two key residues on the MAPK that largely dictate sequence specificity. Based on these observations and computational docking studies, we propose a revised model for MAPK interaction with substrates containing DEF sites. Variations in DEF site sequence requirements provide one possible mechanism for encoding complex target specificity among MAPK isoforms.

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