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Oncogene. 1997 May 1;14(17):2047-57.

YSK1, a novel mammalian protein kinase structurally related to Ste20 and SPS1, but is not involved in the known MAPK pathways.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Yokohama City University School of Medicine, Kanazawa-ku, Yokohama, Japan.


To clarify the upstream regulatory mechanism of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), we performed the reverse transcriptase-based polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) with degenerate primers synthesized based on sequences conserved among the kinase domains of yeast MAPK kinase kinases (MAPKKKs), Stell, Bck1, and Byr2. We isolated several mammalian cDNA fragments that encode kinase subdomains sharing significant sequence homology with yeast MAPKKKs. Subsequent screening of a HeLa cell cDNA library using one of these cDNA fragments as a probe resulted in the isolation of a full-length cDNA that encodes a novel protein kinase. The catalytic domain sequence of this gene product is closely related to those of budding yeast Sps1 and Ste20 protein kinases. Thus, we call this protein YSK1 (Yeast Sps1/Ste20-related Kinase 1). The transcript of YSK1 was detected in a wide range of tissues and cells. Immunoprecipitated YSK1 shows protein kinase activity. Although YSK1 is significantly similar in its kinase domain to kinases of the yeast and mammalian MAPK pathways, the overexpression of YSK1 did not lead to the activation of the ERK (extracellular signal-regulated kinase) pathway, JNK (c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase)/SAPK (stress-activated protein kinase) pathway, or p38/Mpk2 pathway. These results suggest that YSK1 may be involved in the regulation of a novel intracellular signaling pathway.

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