A Phos-tag SDS-PAGE method that effectively uses phosphoproteomic data for profiling the phosphorylation dynamics of MEK1

Proteomics. 2016 Jul;16(13):1825-36. doi: 10.1002/pmic.201500494. Epub 2016 Jun 8.


MEK1, an essential component of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway, is phosphorylated during activation of the pathway; 12 phosphorylation sites have been identified in human MEK1 by MS-based phosphoproteomic methods. By using Phos-tag SDS-PAGE, we found that multiple variants of MEK1 with different phosphorylation states are constitutively present in typical human cells. The Phos-tag-based strategy, which makes effective use of existing information on the location of phosphorylation sites, permits quantitative time-course profiling of MEK1 phosphospecies in their respective phosphorylation states. By subsequent immunoblotting with an anti-HaloTag antibody, we analyzed a HaloTag-fused MEK1 protein and 12 potential phosphorylation-site-directed mutants of the protein transiently expressed in HEK 293 cells. This strategy revealed that MEK1 is constitutively and mainly phosphorylated at the Thr-292, Ser-298, Thr-386, and Thr-388 residues in vivo, and that combinations of phosphorylations at these four residues produce at least six phosphorylated variants of MEK1. Like the levels of phosphorylation of the Ser-218 and Ser-222 residues by RAF1, which have been well studied, the phosphorylation statuses of Thr-292, Ser-298, Thr-386, and Thr-388 residues vary widely during activation and deactivation of the MAPK pathway. Furthermore, we demonstrated inhibitor-specific profiling of MEK1 phosphospecies by using three MEK inhibitors: TAK-733, PD98059, and U0126.

Keywords: HaloTag; MAPK pathway; MEK1; Phos-tag SDS-PAGE; PhosphoSitePlus; Technology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / analysis
  • Amino Acids / metabolism
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel / methods*
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / metabolism
  • HEK293 Cells
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • MAP Kinase Kinase 1 / chemistry
  • MAP Kinase Kinase 1 / metabolism*
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Proteomics / methods*


  • Amino Acids
  • Epidermal Growth Factor
  • MAP Kinase Kinase 1
  • MAP2K1 protein, human