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

MEK kinases are regulated by EGF and selectively interact with Rac/ Cdc42.

MEK kinases (MEKKs) 1, 2, 3 and 4 are members of sequential kinase pathways that regulate MAP kinases including c-Jun NH2-terminal kinases (JNKs) and extracellular regulated kinases (ERKs). Confocal immunofluorescence microscopy of COS cells demonstrated differential MEKK subcellular localization: MEKK1 was nuclear and in post-Golgi vesicular-like structures; MEKK2 and 4 were localized to distinct Golgi-associated vesicles that were dispersed by brefeldin A. MEKK1 and 2 were activated by EGF, and kinase-inactive mutants of each MEKK partially inhibited EGF- stimulated JNK activity. Kinase-inactive MEKK1, but not MEKK2, 3 or 4, strongly inhibited EGF- stimulated ERK activity. In contrast to MEKK2 and 3, MEKK1 and 4 specifically associated with Rac and Cdc42 and kinase-inactive mutants blocked Rac/ Cdc42 stimulation of JNK activity. Inhibitory mutants of MEKK1-4 did not affect p21-activated kinase ( PAK) activation of JNK, indicating that the PAK- regulated JNK pathway is independent of MEKKs. Thus, in different cellular locations, specific MEKKs are required for the regulation of MAPK family members, and MEKK1 and 4 are involved in the regulation of JNK activation by Rac/ Cdc42 independent of PAK. Differential MEKK subcellular distribution and interaction with small GTP-binding proteins provides a mechanism to regulate MAP kinase responses in localized regions of the cell and to different upstream stimuli.[1]


  1. MEK kinases are regulated by EGF and selectively interact with Rac/Cdc42. Fanger, G.R., Johnson, N.L., Johnson, G.L. EMBO J. (1997) [Pubmed]
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