Reconstitution of mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphorylation cascades in bacteria. Efficient synthesis of active protein kinases

Andrei Khokhlatchev, Shuichan Xu, Jessie English, Peiqun Wu, Erik Schaefer, Melanie H. Cobb

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Mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase pathways include a three-kinase cascade terminating in a MAP kinase family member. The middle kinase in the cascade is a MAP/extracellular signal.regulated kinase (ERK) kinase or MEK family member and is highly specific for its MAP kinase target. The first kinase in the cascade, a MEK kinase (MEKK), is characterized by its ability to activate one or more MEK family members. A two-plasmid bacterial expression system was employed to express active forms of the following MEK and MAP kinase family members: ERK1, ERK2, α-SAPK, and p38 and their upstream activators, MEK1, -2, -3, and -4. In each kinase module, the upstream activator, a constitutively active mutant of MEK1 or MEKK1, was expressed from a low copy plasmid, while one or two downstream effector kinases were expressed from a high copy plasmid with different antibiotic resistance genes and origins of replication. Consistent with their high activity, ERK1 and ERK2 were doubly phosphorylated on Tyr and Thr, were recognized by an antibody specific to the doubly phosphorylated forms, and were inactivated by either phosphoprotein phosphatase 2A or phosphotyrosine phosphatase type 1. Likewise, activated p38 and α-stress-activated protein kinase could also be inactivated by either phosphatase, and α-stress- activated protein kinase was recognized by an antibody specific to the doubly phosphorylated forms. These three purified, active MAP kinases have specific activities in the range of 0.6-2.3 μmol/min/mg. Coexpression of protein kinases with their substrates in bacteria is of great value in the preparation of numerous phosphoproteins, heretofore not possible in procaryotic expression systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11057-11062
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number17
StatePublished - Apr 25 1997


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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