Although many stimuli activate extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1 and 2 (ERK1/2), the kinetics and compartmentalization of ERK1/2 signals are stimulus-dependent and dictate physiological consequences. ERKs can be inactivated by dual specificity phosphatases (DUSPs), notably the MAPK phosphatases (MKPs) and atypical DUSPs, that can both dephosphorylate and scaffold ERK1/2. Using a cell imaging model (based on knockdown of endogenous ERKs and add-back of wild-type or mutated ERK2-GFP reporters), we explored possible effects of DUSPs on responses to transient or sustained ERK2 activators (epidermal growth factor and phorbol 12,13-dibutyrate, respectively). For both stimuli, a D319N mutation (which impairs DUSP binding) increased ERK2 activity and reduced nuclear accumulation. These stimuli also increased mRNA levels for eight DUSPs. In a short inhibitory RNA screen, 12 of 16 DUSPs influenced ERK2 responses. These effects were evident among nuclear inducible MKP, cytoplasmic ERK MKP, JNK/p38 MKP, and atypical DUSP subtypes and, with the exception of the nuclear inducible MKPs, were paralleled by corresponding changes in Egr-1 luciferase activation. Simultaneous removal of all JNK/p38 MKPs or nuclear inducible MKPs revealed them as positive and negative regulators of ERK2 signaling, respectively. The effects of JNK/p38 MKP short inhibitory RNAs were not dependent on protein neosynthesis but were reversed in the presence of JNK and p38 kinase inhibitors, indicating DUSP-mediated cross-talk between MAPK pathways. Overall, our data reveal that a large number of DUSPs influence ERK2 signaling. Together with the known tissue-specific expression of DUSPs and the importance of ERK1/2 in cell regulation, our data support the potential value of DUSPs as targets for drug therapy.
Caunt, C. J., Armstrong, S. P., Rivers, C. A., Norman, M. R., & McArdle, C. A. (2008). Spatiotemporal regulation of ERK2 by dual specificity phosphatases. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 283(39), 26612-26623. https://doi.org/10.1074/jbc.M801500200