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Development of ERK Activity Sensor, an in vitro, FRET-based sensor of Extracellular Regulated Kinase activity

1 , , 1

BMC Chemical Biology

BioMed Central

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      Abstract

      Background

      Study of ERK activation has thus far relied on biochemical assays that are limited to the use of phospho-specific antibodies and radioactivity in vitro, and analysis of whole cell populations in vivo. As with many systems, fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) can be utilized to make highly sensitive detectors of molecular activity. Here we introduce FRET-based ERK Activity Sensors, which utilize variants of Enhanced Green Fluorescent Protein fused by an ERK-specific peptide linker to detect ERK2 activity.

      Results

      ERK Activity Sensors display varying changes in FRET upon phosphorylation by active ERK2 in vitro depending on the composition of ERK-specific peptide linker sequences derived from known in vivo ERK targets, Ets1 and Elk1. Analysis of point mutations reveals specific residues involved in ERK binding and phosphorylation of ERK Activity Sensor 3. ERK2 also shows high in vitro specificity for these sensors over two other major MAP Kinases, p38 and pSAPK/JNK.

      Conclusion

      EAS's are a convenient, non-radioactive alternative to study ERK dynamics in vitro. They can be utilized to study ERK activity in real-time. This new technology can be applied to studying ERK kinetics in vitro, analysis of ERK activity in whole cell extracts, and high-throughput screening technologies.

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      Most cited references 19

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      Mammalian MAP kinase signalling cascades.

      Mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) are important signal transducing enzymes, unique to eukaryotes, that are involved in many facets of cellular regulation. Initial research concentrated on defining the components and organization of MAPK signalling cascades, but recent studies have begun to shed light on the physiological functions of these cascades in the control of gene expression, cell proliferation and programmed cell death.
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        Mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways mediated by ERK, JNK, and p38 protein kinases.

        Multicellular organisms have three well-characterized subfamilies of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) that control a vast array of physiological processes. These enzymes are regulated by a characteristic phosphorelay system in which a series of three protein kinases phosphorylate and activate one another. The extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERKs) function in the control of cell division, and inhibitors of these enzymes are being explored as anticancer agents. The c-Jun amino-terminal kinases (JNKs) are critical regulators of transcription, and JNK inhibitors may be effective in control of rheumatoid arthritis. The p38 MAPKs are activated by inflammatory cytokines and environmental stresses and may contribute to diseases like asthma and autoimmunity.
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          Fluorescent indicators for Ca2+ based on green fluorescent proteins and calmodulin.

          Important Ca2+ signals in the cytosol and organelles are often extremely localized and hard to measure. To overcome this problem we have constructed new fluorescent indicators for Ca2+ that are genetically encoded without cofactors and are targetable to specific intracellular locations. We have dubbed these fluorescent indicators 'cameleons'. They consist of tandem fusions of a blue- or cyan-emitting mutant of the green fluorescent protein (GFP), calmodulin, the calmodulin-binding peptide M13, and an enhanced green- or yellow-emitting GFP. Binding of Ca2+ makes calmodulin wrap around the M13 domain, increasing the fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) between the flanking GFPs. Calmodulin mutations can tune the Ca2+ affinities to measure free Ca2+ concentrations in the range 10(-8) to 10(-2) M. We have visualized free Ca2+ dynamics in the cytosol, nucleus and endoplasmic reticulum of single HeLa cells transfected with complementary DNAs encoding chimaeras bearing appropriate localization signals. Ca2+ concentration in the endoplasmic reticulum of individual cells ranged from 60 to 400 microM at rest, and 1 to 50 microM after Ca2+ mobilization. FRET is also an indicator of the reversible intermolecular association of cyan-GFP-labelled calmodulin with yellow-GFP-labelled M13. Thus FRET between GFP mutants can monitor localized Ca2+ signals and protein heterodimerization in individual live cells.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]Division of Biology, California Institute of Technology, M/C 147-75, 1200 E. California Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA
            Contributors
            Journal
            BMC Chem Biol
            BMC Chemical Biology
            BioMed Central (London )
            1472-6769
            2005
            5 July 2005
            : 5
            : 1
            1180429
            1472-6769-5-1
            15998468
            10.1186/1472-6769-5-1
            Copyright © 2005 Green and Alberola-Ila; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

            This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

            Categories
            Research Article

            Biochemistry

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