MK2 and MK3--a pair of isoenzymes?

Front Biosci. 2008 May 1;13:5511-21. doi: 10.2741/3095.


The MAPK-activated protein kinases MK2 and MK3 form a pair of structurally and functionally closely related enzymes present in mammals and birds. Both protein kinases can bind to p38alpha MAPK and are activated by p38alpha via multiple proline-directed phosphorylations in a stress-dependent manner. Although the expression level and activity of MK2 is always significantly higher than that of MK3, the substrate spectrum of both enzymes is indistinguishable and covers proteins involved in cytokines production, endocytosis, reorganization of the cytoskeleton, cell migration, cell cycle control, chromatin remodeling and transcriptional regulation. Functional differences between MK2 and MK3 could result from the more prominent proline-rich SH3-targeting region in MK2, but are not reported so far. Since MK2 and MK3 are the main downstream targets of p38alpha responsible for posttranscriptional stimulation of cytokine biosynthesis, both enzymes are promising targets for the development of small molecule inhibitors which can be used in anti-inflammatory therapy. MK2-knockout mice show decreased LPS-induced cytokine biosynthesis and increased protection against collagen-induced arthritis. Recently generated MK2/3 double knockout mice show further reduction of LPS-induced cytokine production.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / genetics
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism*
  • Isoenzymes / genetics
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism
  • Kinetics
  • Mice
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism


  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Isoenzymes
  • RNA, Messenger
  • MAP-kinase-activated kinase 2
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases