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FASEB J. 1995 Jun;9(9):726-35.

The MAPK signaling cascade.

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Department of Membrane Research and Biophysics, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel.


The transmission of extracellular signals into their intracellular targets is mediated by a network of interacting proteins that regulate a large number of cellular processes. Cumulative efforts from many laboratories over the past decade have allowed the elucidation of one such signaling mechanism, which involves activations of several membranal signaling molecules followed by a sequential stimulation of several cytoplasmic protein kinases collectively known as mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling cascade. Up to six tiers in this cascade contribute to the amplification and specificity of the transmitted signals that eventually activate several regulatory molecules in the cytoplasm and in the nucleus to initiate cellular processes such as proliferation, differentiation, and development. Moreover, because many oncogenes have been shown to encode proteins that transmit mitogenic signals upstream of this cascade, the MAPK pathway provides a simple unifying explanation for the mechanism of action of most, if not all, nonnuclear oncogenes. The pattern of MAPK cascade is not restricted to growth factor signaling and it is now known that signaling pathways initiated by phorbol esters, ionophors, heat shock, and ligands for seven transmembrane receptors use distinct MAPK cascades with little or no cross-reactivity between them. In this review we emphasize primarily the first MAPK cascade to be discovered that uses the MEK and ERK isoforms and describe their involvement in different cellular processes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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