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: 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).