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J Biol Chem. 1997 Apr 18;272(16):10797-803.

Interferon-gamma activation of a mitogen-activated protein kinase, KFR1, in the bloodstream form of Trypanosoma brucei.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of California, San Francisco, California 94143-0446, USA.


KFR1, a mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase identified in the African trypanosome, Trypanosoma brucei, is a serine protein kinase capable of phosphorylating the serine residues in histone H-1, myelin basic protein, and beta-casein. It phosphorylates four proteins with estimated molecular masses of 22, 34, 46, and 90 kDa from the T. brucei bloodstream-form lysate in vitro. KFR1 bears significant sequence similarity to the yeast MAP kinases KSS1 and FUS3 but cannot functionally complement the kss1/fus3 yeast mutant. It is encoded by a single-copy gene in the diploid T. brucei, and only one of the two alleles can be successfully disrupted, suggesting an essential function of KFR1 in T. brucei. KFR1 activity is present at a much enhanced level in the bloodstream form of T. brucei when compared with that in the insect (procyclic) form. This enhanced activity can be eliminated in vitro by the treatment with protein phosphatase HVH2 known to act specifically on MAP kinases. It can also be decreased in the bloodstream form of T. brucei by serum starvation but induced specifically by interferon-gamma. The production of interferon-gamma in the mammalian host is known to be triggered by T. brucei infection, and this cytokine, as has been reported, promotes the proliferation of T. brucei in the mammalian blood. Since none of these phenomena can be observed in the procyclic form of T. brucei, activation of KFR1 is most likely involved in mediating the interferon-gamma-induced proliferation of T. brucei in the mammalian host.

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