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PLoS One. 2015 Aug 21;10(8):e0136138. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0136138. eCollection 2015.

Comparative Analysis of Two Gene-Targeting Approaches Challenges the Tumor-Suppressive Role of the Protein Kinase MK5/PRAK.

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Department of Biochemistry, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany.
Department of Dermatology, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus C, Denmark.
Department of Pharmacology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, United States of America.


MK5 (MAPK-activated protein kinase 5) or PRAK (p38-regulated and -activated kinase) are alternative names for a serine/threonine protein kinase downstream to ERK3/4 and p38 MAPK. A previous gene targeting approach for MK5/PRAK (termed here MK5/PRAK-Δex8) revealed a seemingly tumor-suppressive role of MK5/PRAK in DMBA-induced one step skin carcinogenesis and Ras-induced transformation. Here we demonstrate that an alternative targeting strategy of MK5/PRAK (termed MK5/PRAK-Δex6) increased neither tumor incidence in the one step skin carcinogenesis model, nor Ras-induced transformation in primary cells. Interestingly, due to the targeting strategies and exon skipping both knockouts do not completely abolish the generation of MK5/PRAK protein, but express MK5/PRAK deletion mutants with different biochemical properties depending on the exon targeted: Targeting of exon 6 leads to expression of an unstable cytoplasmic catalytically inactive MK5/PRAK-Δex6 mutant while targeting of exon 8 results in a more stable nuclear MK5/PRAK-Δex8 mutant with residual catalytic activity. The different properties of the MK5/PRAK deletion mutants could be responsible for the observed discrepancy between the knockout strains and challenge the role of MK5/PRAK in p53-dependent tumor suppression. Further MK5/PRAK knockout and knock-in mouse strains will be necessary to assign a physiological function to MK5/PRAK in this model organism.

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