The MAP kinase (MAPK) signalling pathways play fundamental roles in a wide range of cellular processes and are often deregulated in disease states. One major mode of action for these pathways is in controlling gene expression, in particular through regulating transcription. In this review, we discuss recent significant advances in this area. In particular we focus on the mechanisms by which MAPKs are targeted to the nucleus and chromatin, and once there, how they impact on chromatin structure and subsequent gene regulation. We also discuss how systems biology approaches have contributed to our understanding of MAPK signaling networks, and also how the MAPK pathways intersect with other regulatory pathways in the nucleus. Finally, we summarise progress in studying the physiological functions of key MAPK transcriptional targets.
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