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: 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).