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Mol Cell Biol. 1993 Aug;13(8):4679-90.

Molecular cloning, expression, and characterization of the human mitogen-activated protein kinase p44erk1.

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  • 1Biomedical Research Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.


p44erk1 is a member of a family of tyrosyl-phosphorylated and mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases that participate in cell cycle control. A full-length erk1 cDNA was isolated from a human hepatoma cell line (Hep G2) library. The erk1 cDNA clone shared approximately 96% predicted amino acid identity with partial sequences of rodent erk1 cognates, and the erk1 gene was assigned to human chromosome 16 by hybrid panel analysis. Human erk1 expressed in Escherichia coli as a glutathione S-transferase fusion (GST-Erk1) protein was substantially phosphorylated on tyrosine in vivo. It underwent further autophosphorylation in vitro (up to 0.01 mol of P per mol) at the regulatory Tyr-204 site and at additional tyrosine and serine residues. Threonine autophosphorylation, presumably at the regulatory Thr-202 site, was also detected weakly when the recombinant kinase was incubated in the presence of manganese, but not in the presence of magnesium. Before and after cleavage of the GST-Erk1 protein with thrombin, it exhibited a relatively high level of myelin basic protein phosphotransferase activity, which could be reduced eightfold by treatment of the kinase with the protein-tyrosine phosphatase CD45, but not by treatment with the protein-serine/threonine phosphatase 2A. The protein-tyrosine kinase p56lck catalyzed phosphorylation of GST-Erk1 at two autophosphorylations sites, including Tyr-204, and at a novel site. A further fivefold stimulation of the myelin basic protein phosphotransferase activity of the GST-Erk1 was achieved in the presence of a partially purified MAP kinase kinase from sheep platelets. Under these circumstances, there was primarily an enhancement of the tyrosine phosphorylation of GST-Erk1. This MAP kinase kinase also similarly phosphorylated a catalytically compromised version of GST-Erk1 in which Lys-71 was converted to Ala by site-directed mutagenesis.

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