Biochemical and genetic analysis of two protein kinases JNKK2 and MEKK3

Jianhua Yang, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascades are conserved eukaryotic signaling modules consisting of a MAPK, a MAPKK and a MAP3K. MAPK cascades are involved in many cellular responses including proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis, stress and immune responses. The first part of this thesis describes the cloning and biochemical analysis of JNKK2, a member of MAPKK gene family. Our results demonstrate that JNKK2 is a specific JNK activator and activates the JNK-dependent signal transduction pathway in vivo by inducing c-Jun and ATF2-mediated gene expression. We also found that JNKK2 is specifically activated by a MAP3K MEKK2 through formation of MEKK2-JNKK2-JNK1 triple complex module. JNKK2 is likely to mediate specific upstream signals to activate JNK cascade. The second part of this thesis describes biochemical and gene disruption analysis of MEKK3, a member of MAP3K gene family. We showed that overexpression of MEKK3 strongly activates both JNK and p38 MAPKs but only weakly activates ERK. MEKK−/− embryos die at about embryonic day (E) 11. MEKK3−/− embryos displayed defects in blood vessel development in the yolk sacs, and in the myocardium and endocardium development at E9.5. The angiogenesis in the head, intersomitic region and placenta was also abnormal. These results demonstrate that MEKK3, a member of MAP3K MEKK/STE11 subgene family, is essential for early embryonic cardiovascular development. Furthermore, it was found that disruption of MEKK3 did not alter the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor-1 (VEGF-1), angiopoietin-1, -2 and their respective receptors Flt-1, Flk-1, Tie-1, Tie-2. Finally, MEKK3 was shown to activate myocyte-specific enhancer factor 2C (MEF2C), a crucial transcription factor for early embryonic cardiovascular development through the p38 MAPK cascade, suggesting that MEF2C is one of the key targets of the MEEKK3 signaling pathway during early embryonic cardiovascular development.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Yang, Jianhua, "Biochemical and genetic analysis of two protein kinases JNKK2 and MEKK3" (2000). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9959008.