Big mitogen-activated kinase 1 (BMK1/ERK5) is a member of the MAPK family activated by growth factors that mediates cell growth and survival. Previous data show that BMK1 can be activated by steady laminar flow and is atheroprotective by preventing endothelial cells from undergoing apoptosis. The primary structure of BMK1 is distinct from other MAPK members by virtue of a unique long C-tail, suggesting specific mechanisms of regulation. To characterize regulatory mechanisms for BMK1 function, we identified binding proteins by yeast two-hybrid analysis. Among these proteins, the scaffolding protein 14-3-3 was identified. BMK1 bound to 14-3-3beta in vitro and in vivo as demonstrated by glutathione S-transferase (GST)-14-3-3beta fusion protein pull-down assays and coimmunoprecipitation. Phosphorylation of BMK1 was most likely required for this interaction. GST-14-3-3beta pull-down assays using truncated constructs of BMK1 and site-directed BMK1 mutants demonstrated that the interaction requires serine 486 within the C terminus of BMK1. BMK1 bound to 14-3-3beta basally, and the interaction was greatly abrogated when BMK1 was activated. The interaction of 14-3-3beta and BMK1 inhibited kinase activities stimulated by constitutively active (CA)-MEK5 and epidermal growth factor. Mutation of serine 486 (BMK1-S486A) prevented the interaction with 14-3-3beta and enhanced BMK1 activity upon epidermal growth factor stimulation. These data demonstrate an inhibitory function for 14-3-3beta binding to BMK1 and show that serine 486 phosphorylation represents a novel regulatory mechanism for BMK1.
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