Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark (FBL) is published by IMR Press from Volume 26 Issue 5 (2021). Previous articles were published by another publisher on a subscription basis, and they are hosted by IMR Press on imrpress.com as a courtesy and upon agreement with Frontiers in Bioscience.
MK2 and MK3 – a pair of isoenzymes?
The MAPK-activated protein kinases MK2 and MK3 form a pair of structurally and functionally closely related enzymes present in mammals and birds. Both protein kinases can bind to p38α MAPK and are activated by p38α via multiple proline-directed phosphorylations in a stress-dependent manner. Although the expression level and activity of MK2 is always significantly higher than that of MK3, the substrate spectrum of both enzymes is indistinguishable and covers proteins involved in cytokines production, endocytosis, reorganization of the cytoskeleton, cell migration, cell cycle control, chromatin remodeling and transcriptional regulation. Functional differences between MK2 and MK3 could result from the more prominent proline-rich SH3-targeting region in MK2, but are not reported so far. Since MK2 and MK3 are the main downstream targets of p38α responsible for posttranscriptional stimulation of cytokine biosynthesis, both enzymes are promising targets for the development of small molecule inhibitors which can be used in anti-inflammatory therapy. MK2-knockout mice show decreased LPS-induced cytokine biosynthesis and increased protection against collagen-induced arthritis. Recently generated MK2/3 double knockout mice show further reduction of LPS-induced cytokine production.