Substrate specificity and activity regulation of protein kinase MELK
ABSTRACT Maternal embryonic leucine zipper kinase (MELK) is a protein Ser/Thr kinase that has been implicated in stem cell renewal, cell cycle progression, and pre-mRNA splicing, but its substrates and regulation are not yet known. We show here that MELK has a rather broad substrate specificity and does not appear to require a specific sequence surrounding its (auto)phosphorylation sites. We have mapped no less than 16 autophosphorylation sites including serines, threonines, and a tyrosine residue and show that the phosphorylation of Thr167 and Ser171 is required for the activation of MELK. The expression of MELK activity also requires reducing agents such as dithiothreitol or reduced glutathione. Furthermore, we show that MELK is a Ca2+-binding protein and is inhibited by physiological Ca2+ concentrations. The smallest MELK fragment that was still catalytically active comprises the N-terminal catalytic domain and the flanking ubiquitin-associated domain. A C-terminal fragment of MELK functions as an autoinhibitory domain. Our data show that the activity of MELK is regulated in a complex manner and offer new perspectives for the further elucidation of its biological function.
SourceAvailable from: Ichiro Nakano[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Maternal embryonic leucine zipper kinase (MELK) is a highly conserved serine/threonine kinase initially found to be expressed in a wide range of early embryonic cellular stages, and as a result has been implicated in embryogenesis and cell cycle control. Recent evidence has identified a broader spectrum of tissue expression pattern for this kinase than previously appreciated. MELK is expressed in several human cancers and stem cell populations. Unique spatial and temporal patterns of expression within these tissues suggest that MELK plays a prominent role in cell cycle control, cell proliferation, apoptosis, cell migration, cell renewal, embryogenesis, oncogenesis, and cancer treatment resistance and recurrence. These findings have important implications for our understanding of development, disease, and cancer therapeutics. Furthermore understanding MELK signaling may elucidate an added dimension of stem cell control.02/2015; 4(1). DOI:10.1186/s40169-014-0045-y
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ABSTRACT: Serine-threonine kinase receptor-associated protein (STRAP) is a TGF- receptor-interacting protein that participates in the regulation of cell proliferation and cell death in response to various stresses. Here, we demonstrate that STRAP phosphorylation plays an important role in determining the pro- or anti-apoptotic function of STRAP. Murine protein serine/threonine kinase 38 (MPK38) phosphorylates STRAP at Ser(188) via direct interaction. Complex formation between STRAP and MPK38 is mediated by Cys(152) and Cys(270) of STRAP and Cys(339) and Cys(377) of MPK38, suggesting the redox dependency of this interaction. MPK38-mediated STRAP Ser(188) phosphorylation contributes to the pro-apoptotic function of STRAP by modulating key steps in STRAP-dependent ASK1, TGF-, p53, and PI3K/PDK1 signaling pathways. Moreover, knockdown of endogenous MPK38 using an inducible MPK38 shRNA system and in vivo activation of MPK38 by treatment of HEK293 and STRAP-null MEF cells with 1-chloro-2,4-dinitrobenzene (DNCB), a specific inhibitor of Trx reductase, provide evidence that STRAP Ser(188) phosphorylation plays a key role in STRAP-dependent cell death. Adenoviral delivery of MPK38 in mice also demonstrates that STRAP Ser(188) phosphorylation in the liver is tightly associated with cell death and proliferation through ASK1, TGF-, p53, and PI3K/PDK1 pathways, resulting in apoptotic cell death.Cell Cycle; 11/2014
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ABSTRACT: Fragment-based drug design was successfully applied to maternal embryonic leucine zipper kinase (MELK). A low affinity (160 μM) fragment hit was identified, which bound to the hinge region with an atypical binding mode, and this was optimized using structure-based design into a low-nanomolar and cell-penetrant inhibitor, with a good selectivity profile, suitable for use as a chemical probe for elucidation of MELK biology.ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters 01/2015; 6(1):25-30. DOI:10.1021/ml5001245 · 3.07 Impact Factor