The p38β mitogen-Activated protein kinase possesses an intrinsic autophosphorylation activity, Generated by a short region composed of the α-G Helix and MAPK insert

Jonah Beenstock, Sheer Ben-Yehuda, Dganit Melamed, Arie Admon, Oded Livnah, Natalie G. Ahn, David Engelberg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations

Abstract

Protein kinases are regulated by a large number of mechanisms that vary from one kinase to another. However, a fundamental activation mechanism shared by all protein kinases is phosphorylation of a conserved activation loop threonine residue. This is achieved in many cases via autophosphorylation. The mechanism and structural basis for autophosphorylation are not clear and are in fact enigmatic because this phosphorylation occurs when the kinase is in its inactive conformation. Unlike most protein kinases, MAP kinases are not commonly activated by autophosphorylation but rather by MEK-dependent phosphorylation. Here we show that p38β, a p38 isoform that is almost identical to p38β, is exceptional and spontaneously autoactivates by autophosphorylation. We identified a 13-residue-long region composed of part of the αG-helix and theMAPKinsert that triggers the intrinsic autophosphorylation activity of p38β. When inserted into p38β, this fragment renders it spontaneously active in vitro and in mammalian cells.We further found that an interaction between the N terminus and a particular region of the C-terminal extension suppresses the intrinsic autophosphorylation of p38β in mammalian cells. Thus, this study identified the structural motif responsible for the unique autophosphorylation capability of p38β and the motif inhibiting this activity in living cells. It shows that the MAPK insert and C-terminal extension, structural motifs that are unique to MAPKs, play a critical role in controlling autophosphorylation.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)23546-23556
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Volume289
Issue number34
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014

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