Role of SAPK/ERK kinase-1 in the stress-activated pathway regulating transcription factor c-Jun

Nature. 1994 Dec 22-29;372(6508):794-8. doi: 10.1038/372794a0.


The stress-activated protein kinases (SAPKs), which are distantly related to the MAP kinases, are the dominant c-Jun amino-terminal protein kinases activated in response to a variety of cellular stresses, including treatment with tumour-necrosis factor-alpha and interleukin-beta (refs 1, 2). SAPK phosphorylation of c-Jun probably activates the c-Jun transactivation function. SAPKs are part of a signal transduction cascade related to, but distinct from, the MAPK pathway. We have now identified a novel protein kinase, called SAPK/ERK kinase-1 (SEK1), which is structurally related to the MAP kinase kinases (MEKs). SEK1 is a potent activator of the SAPKs in vitro and in vivo. An inactive SEK1 mutant blocks SAPK activation by extracellular stimuli without interfering with the MAPK pathway. Although alternative mechanisms of SAPK activation may exist, as an immediate upstream activator of the SAPKs, SEK1 further defines a signalling cascade that couples cellular stress agonists to the c-Jun transcription factor.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • DNA, Complementary
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism
  • MAP Kinase Kinase 4*
  • MAP Kinase Kinase Kinase 1*
  • Mice
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Muscles / metabolism
  • Protein Kinases / genetics
  • Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-jun / genetics*
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Signal Transduction
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • DNA, Complementary
  • Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-jun
  • Protein Kinases
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • MAP Kinase Kinase Kinase 1
  • Map3k1 protein, mouse
  • MAP Kinase Kinase 4
  • Map2k4 protein, mouse
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases

Associated data

  • GENBANK/S74764