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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Erks: their fifteen minutes has arrived.

In conclusion, a multigene family ( ERK) encoding protein kinases that have the capacity to convert tyrosine kinase signals to serine/threonine phosphorylation signals has been identified in animal and yeast cells. Protein kinases from this family have been shown to be phosphorylated on tyrosine and threonine in response to mitogens, as well as to have the capacity to autophosphorylate on these amino acid residues. In contrast, they apparently phosphorylate exogenous substrates on serine and/or threonine. Studies with cultured cells, Xenopus, and sea star oocytes have furthered our understanding of possible functions of Erks in vivo. These enzymes respond immediately to extracellular signals and are involved in G0-G1 transition (cultured cells), as well as in the M phase of oocyte maturation (Xenopus and sea star oocytes). Their usage of MAPs as substrates in vivo suggests a possible role of Erks in microtubule reorganization. ERK- encoded protein kinases use c-Jun, EGF receptor, and Raf-1 as potential substrates and can also reactivate dephosphorylated S6 kinase in vitro. Taken together, these data suggest that these enzymes play an important role in relaying the mitogenic signal by phosphorylating down-stream kinases and specific transcriptional factors, as well as having possible feedback function in the process of signal transduction. The results from the study of the yeast enzymes are pertinent to Erk activation in cells with nonmitogenic responses described above. In such cases, Erk protein kinases may act directly or indirectly on cyclins to arrest division and permit differentiation. The pathways influenced by ERK-like gene products in animal and yeast cells suggest that, depending on the downstream targets of substrates, transcriptional changes in a particular cell may occur to drive the cell cycle or, alternatively, withdrawal from the cell cycle may lead to specific differentiation events.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)[1]


  1. Erks: their fifteen minutes has arrived. Crews, C.M., Alessandrini, A., Erikson, R.L. Cell Growth Differ. (1992) [Pubmed]
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