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Biochemistry. 2018 Nov 19. doi: 10.1021/acs.biochem.8b01032. [Epub ahead of print]

RNA recognition-like motifs activate a MAPK.

Abstract

Smk1 is a MAPK in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae that controls the post-meiotic program of spore formation. Ssp2 is a meiosis-specific protein that activates Smk1 and triggers the autophosphorylation of its activation loop. A fragment of Ssp2 that is sufficient to activate Smk1 contains two segments that resemble RNA Recognition Motifs (RRMs). Mutations in either of these motifs eliminated Ssp2's ability to activate Smk1. In contrast, deletions and insertions within the segment linking the RRM-like motifs only partially reduced the activity of Ssp2. Moreover, the two RRM-like motifs expressed as separate proteins in bacteria activated Smk1. We also find that both motifs can be cross-linked to Smk1 and that at least one of the motifs binds near the ATP-binding pocket of the MAPK. These findings demonstrate that motifs related to RRMs can directly activate protein kinases.

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