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Nature. 1995 Oct 26;377(6551):750-4.

Activation of the SAPK pathway by the human STE20 homologue germinal centre kinase.

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Diabetes Research Laboratory, Massachusetts General Hospital East, Charlestown, USA.


Eukaryotic cells respond to different extracellular stimuli by recruiting homologous signalling pathways that use members of the MEKK, MEK and ERK families of protein kinases. The MEKK-->MEK-->ERK core pathways of Saccharomyces cerevisiae may themselves be regulated by members of the STE20 family of protein kinases. Here we report specific activation of the mammalian stress-activated protein kinase (SAPK) pathway by germinal centre kinase (GCK), a human STE20 homologue. SAPKs, members of the ERK family, are activated in situ by inflammatory stimuli, including tumour-necrosis factor (TNF) and interleukin-1, and phosphorylate and probably stimulate the transactivation function of c-Jun. Although GCK is found in many tissues, its expression in lymphoid follicles is restricted to the cells of the germinal centre, where it may participate in B-cell differentiation. Activation of the SAPK pathway by GCK illustrates further the striking conservation of eukaryotic signalling mechanisms and defines the first physiological function of a mammalian Ste20.

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