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J Mol Signal. 2012 Jul 16;7(1):9. doi: 10.1186/1750-2187-7-9.

Tumour promoting and suppressing roles of the atypical MAP kinase signalling pathway ERK3/4-MK5.

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Department of Medical Biology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Tromsø, Tromsø, NO-9037, Norway.


Perturbed action of signal transduction pathways, including the mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase pathways, is one of the hallmarks of many cancers. While the implication of the typical MAP kinase pathways ERK1/2-MEK1/2, p38MAPK and JNK is well established, recent findings illustrate that the atypical MAP kinase ERK3/4-MK5 may also be involved in tumorigenic processes. Remarkably, the ERK3/4-MK5 pathway seems to possess anti-oncogenic as well as pro-oncogenic properties in cell culture and aninal models. This review summarizes the mutations in the genes encoding ERK3, ERK4 and MK5 that have been detected in different cancers, reports aberrant expression levels of these proteins in human tumours, and discusses the mechanisms by which this pathway can induce senescence, stimulate angiogenesis and invasiveness.

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