MAP3K1: Genomic Alterations in Cancer and Function in Promoting Cell Survival or Apoptosis

Genes Cancer. 2013 Nov;4(11-12):419-26. doi: 10.1177/1947601913513950.


MAP3K1 is a member of the mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase (MAP3K) family of serine/threonine kinases. MAP3K1 regulates JNK activation and is unique among human kinases in that it also encodes an E3 ligase domain that ubiquitylates c-Jun and ERK1/2. Full length MAP3K1 regulates cell migration and contributes to pro-survival signaling while its caspase 3-mediated cleavage generates a C-terminal kinase domain that promotes apoptosis. The critical function of MAP3K1 in cell fate decisions suggests that it may be a target for deregulation in cancer. Recent large-scale genomic studies have revealed that MAP3K1 copy number loss and somatic missense or nonsense mutations are observed in a significant number of different cancers, being most prominent in luminal breast cancer. The alteration of MAP3K1 in diverse cancer types demonstrates the importance of defining phenotypes for possible therapeutic targeting of tumor cell vulnerabilities created when MAP3K1 function is lost or gained.

Keywords: MAP3K; MEKK; apoptosis; protein kinase.