DUSPs, to MAP kinases and beyond

Cell Biosci. 2012 Jul 9;2(1):24. doi: 10.1186/2045-3701-2-24.


Phosphatases are important regulators of intracellular signaling events, and their functions have been implicated in many biological processes. Dual-specificity phosphatases (DUSPs), whose family currently contains 25 members, are phosphatases that can dephosphorylate both tyrosine and serine/threonine residues of their substrates. The archetypical DUSP, DUSP1/MKP1, was initially discovered to regulate the activities of MAP kinases by dephosphorylating the TXY motif in the kinase domain. However, although DUSPs were discovered more than a decade ago, only in the past few years have their various functions begun to be described. DUSPs can be categorized based on the presence or absence of a MAP kinase-interacting domain into typical DUSPs and atypical DUSPs, respectively. In this review, we discuss the current understanding of how the activities of typical DUSPs are regulated and how typical DUSPs can regulate the functions of their targets. We also summarize recent findings from several in vivo DUSP-deficient mouse models that studied the involvement of DUSPs during the development and functioning of T cells. Finally, we discuss briefly the potential roles of DUSPs in the regulation of non-MAP kinase targets, as well as in the modulation of tumorigenesis.