Background: Heat shock protein (HSP) 27 is one of the small HSPs that are constitutively expressed at different levels in various cell types and tissues. Like other small HSPs, HSP27 is regulated at both the transcriptional and posttranslational levels (1). In response to stress, the HSP27 expression increases several-fold to confer cellular resistance to the adverse environmental change. HSP27 is phosphorylated at Ser15, Ser78, and Ser82 by MAPKAPK-2 as a result of the activation of the p38 MAP kinase pathway (2,3). Phosphorylation of HSP27 causes a change in its tertiary structure, which shifts from large homotypic multimers to dimers and monomers (4). It has been shown that phosphorylation and increased concentration of HSP27 modulates actin polymerization and reorganization (5,6).
Background: Glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) was initially identified as an enzyme that regulates glycogen synthesis in response to insulin (1). GSK-3 is a ubiquitously expressed serine/threonine protein kinase that phosphorylates and inactivates glycogen synthase. GSK-3 is a critical downstream element of the PI3K/Akt cell survival pathway whose activity can be inhibited by Akt-mediated phosphorylation at Ser21 of GSK-3α and Ser9 of GSK-3β (2,3). GSK-3 has been implicated in the regulation of cell fate in Dictyostelium and is a component of the Wnt signaling pathway required for Drosophila, Xenopus, and mammalian development (4). GSK-3 has been shown to regulate cyclin D1 proteolysis and subcellular localization (5).
Background: The receptor-interacting protein (RIP) family of serine-threonine kinases (RIP, RIP2, RIP3, and RIP4) are important regulators of cellular stress that trigger pro-survival and inflammatory responses through the activation of NF-κB, as well as pro-apoptotic pathways (1). In addition to the kinase domain, RIP contains a death domain responsible for interaction with the death domain receptor Fas and recruitment to TNF-R1 through interaction with TRADD (2,3). RIP-deficient cells show a failure in TNF-mediated NF-κB activation, making the cells more sensitive to apoptosis (4,5). RIP also interacts with TNF-receptor-associated factors (TRAFs) and can recruit IKKs to the TNF-R1 signaling complex via interaction with NEMO, leading to IκB phosphorylation and degradation (6,7). Overexpression of RIP induces both NF-κB activation and apoptosis (2,3). Caspase-8-dependent cleavage of the RIP death domain can trigger the apoptotic activity of RIP (8).
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: The NF-κB/Rel transcription factors are present in the cytosol in an inactive state complexed with the inhibitory IκB proteins (1-3). Activation occurs via phosphorylation of IκBα at Ser32 and Ser36 followed by proteasome-mediated degradation that results in the release and nuclear translocation of active NF-κB (3-7). IκBα phosphorylation and resulting Rel-dependent transcription are activated by a highly diverse group of extracellular signals including inflammatory cytokines, growth factors, and chemokines. Kinases that phosphorylate IκB at these activating sites have been identified (8).
Background: Chk2 is the mammalian orthologue of the budding yeast Rad53 and fission yeast Cds1 checkpoint kinases (1-3). The amino-terminal domain of Chk2 contains a series of seven serine or threonine residues (Ser19, Thr26, Ser28, Ser33, Ser35, Ser50, and Thr68) each followed by glutamine (SQ or TQ motif). These are known to be preferred sites for phosphorylation by ATM/ATR kinases (4,5). After DNA damage by ionizing radiation (IR), UV irradiation, or hydroxyurea treatment, Thr68 and other sites in this region become phosphorylated by ATM/ATR (5-7). The SQ/TQ cluster domain, therefore, seems to have a regulatory function. Phosphorylation at Thr68 is a prerequisite for the subsequent activation step, which is attributable to autophosphorylation of Chk2 at residues Thr383 and Thr387 in the activation loop of the kinase domain (8).
Background: Members of the Smad family of signal transduction molecules are components of a critical intracellular pathway that transmit TGF-β signals from the cell surface into the nucleus. Three distinct classes of Smads have been defined: the receptor-regulated Smads (R-Smads), which include Smad1, 2, 3, 5, and 8; the common-mediator Smad (co-Smad), Smad4; and the antagonistic or inhibitory Smads (I-Smads), Smad6 and 7 (1-5). Activated type I receptors associate with specific R-Smads and phosphorylate them on a conserved carboxy terminal SSXS motif. The phosphorylated R-Smad dissociates from the receptor and forms a heteromeric complex with the co-Smad (Smad4), allowing translocation of the complex to the nucleus. Once in the nucleus, Smads can target a variety of DNA binding proteins to regulate transcriptional responses (6-8).