Author(s): Kallunki T, Su B, Tsigelny I, Sluss HK, Drijard B,
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Abstract The transcriptional activity of c-Jun is augmented through phosphorylation at two sites by a c-Jun amino-terminal kinase (JNK). All cells express two distinct JNK activities, 46 and 55 kD in size. It is not clear which of them is the more important c-Jun kinase and how they specifically recognize c-Jun. The 46-kD form of JNK was identified as a new member of the MAP kinase group of signal-transducing enzymes, JNK1. Here, we report the molecular cloning of the 55-kD form of JNK, JNK2, which exhibits 83\% identity and similar regulation to JNK1. Despite this close similarity, the two JNKs differ greatly in their ability to interact with c-Jun. JNK2 binds c-Jun approximately 25 times more efficiently than JNK1, and as a result has a lower Km toward c-Jun than JNK1. The structural basis for this difference was investigated and traced to a small beta-strand-like region near the catalytic pocket of the enzyme. Modeling suggests that this region is solvent exposed and therefore is likely to serve as a docking site that increases the effective concentration of c-Jun near JNK2. These results explain how two closely related MAP kinases can differ in their ability to recognize specific substrates and thereby elicit different biological responses.
This article was published in Genes Dev
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Cellular Immunology