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Cell. 1997 Apr 18;89(2):297-308.

MARK, a novel family of protein kinases that phosphorylate microtubule-associated proteins and trigger microtubule disruption.

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Max-Planck-Unit for Structural Molecular Biology, Hamburg, Germany.


MARK phosphorylates the microtubule-associated proteins tau, MAP2, and MAP4 on their microtubule-binding domain, causing their dissociation from microtubules and increased microtubule dynamics. We describe the molecular cloning, distribution, activation mechanism, and overexpression of two MARK proteins from rat that arise from distinct genes. They encode Ser/Thr kinases of 88 and 81 kDa, respectively, and show similarity to the yeast kin1+ and C. elegans par-1 genes that are involved in the establishment of cell polarity. Expression of both isoforms is ubiquitous, and homologous genes are present in humans. Catalytic activity depends on phosphorylation of two residues in subdomain VIII. Overexpression of MARK in cells leads to hyperphosphorylation of MAPs on KXGS motifs and to disruption of the microtubule array, resulting in morphological changes and cell death.

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