Background: Protein kinase-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK) is an eIF2α kinase and transmembrane protein resident in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membrane that couples ER stress signals to translation inhibition (1-3). ER stress increases the activity of PERK, which then phosphorylates eIF2α to promote reduced translation. Research studies have demonstrated that PERK-deficient mice have defects in pancreatic β cells several weeks after birth, suggesting a role for PERK-mediated translational control in protecting secretory cells from ER stress (4). PERK activation during ER stress correlates with autophosphorylation of its cytoplasmic kinase domain (1-3). Phosphorylation of PERK at Thr980 serves as a marker for its activation status.
Background: p38 MAP kinase (MAPK), also called RK (1) or CSBP (2), is the mammalian orthologue of the yeast HOG kinase that participates in a signaling cascade controlling cellular responses to cytokines and stress (1-4). Four isoforms of p38 MAPK, p38α, β, γ (also known as Erk6 or SAPK3), and δ (also known as SAPK4) have been identified. Similar to the SAPK/JNK pathway, p38 MAPK is activated by a variety of cellular stresses including osmotic shock, inflammatory cytokines, lipopolysaccharide (LPS), UV light, and growth factors (1-5). MKK3, MKK6, and SEK activate p38 MAPK by phosphorylation at Thr180 and Tyr182. Activated p38 MAPK has been shown to phosphorylate and activate MAPKAP kinase 2 (3) and to phosphorylate the transcription factors ATF-2 (5), Max (6), and MEF2 (5-8). SB203580 (4-(4-fluorophenyl)-2-(4-methylsulfinylphenyl)-5-(4-pyridyl)-imidazole) is a selective inhibitor of p38 MAPK. This compound inhibits the activation of MAPKAPK-2 by p38 MAPK and subsequent phosphorylation of HSP27 (9). SB203580 inhibits p38 MAPK catalytic activity by binding to the ATP-binding pocket, but does not inhibit phosphorylation of p38 MAPK by upstream kinases (10).
Background: Transcription factors of the nuclear factor κB (NF-κB)/Rel family play a pivotal role in inflammatory and immune responses (1,2). There are five family members in mammals: RelA, c-Rel, RelB, NF-κB1 (p105/p50), and NF-κB2 (p100/p52). Both p105 and p100 are proteolytically processed by the proteasome to produce p50 and p52, respectively. Rel proteins bind p50 and p52 to form dimeric complexes that bind DNA and regulate transcription. In unstimulated cells, NF-κB is sequestered in the cytoplasm by IκB inhibitory proteins (3-5). NF-κB-activating agents can induce the phosphorylation of IκB proteins, targeting them for rapid degradation through the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway and releasing NF-κB to enter the nucleus where it regulates gene expression (6-8). NIK and IKKα (IKK1) regulate the phosphorylation and processing of NF-κB2 (p100) to produce p52, which translocates to the nucleus (9-11).
Background: β-Catenin is a key downstream effector in the Wnt signaling pathway (1). It is implicated in two major biological processes in vertebrates: early embryonic development (2) and tumorigenesis (3). CK1 phosphorylates β-catenin at Ser45. This phosphorylation event primes β-catenin for subsequent phosphorylation by GSK-3β (4-6). GSK-3β destabilizes β-catenin by phosphorylating it at Ser33, Ser37, and Thr41 (7). Mutations at these sites result in the stabilization of β-catenin protein levels and have been found in many tumor cell lines (8).