We describe a protein kinase, Shk1, from the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, which is structurally related to the Saccharomyces cerevisiae Ste20 and mammalian p65PAK protein kinases. We provide genetic evidence for physical and functional interaction between Shk1 and the Cdc42 GTP-binding protein required for normal cell morphology and mating in S. pombe. We further show that expression of the STE20 gene complements the shk1 null mutation and that Shk1 is capable of signaling to the pheromone-responsive mitogen-activated protein kinase cascade in S. cerevisiae. Our results lead us to propose that signaling modules composed of small GTP-binding proteins and protein kinases related to Shk1, Ste20, and p65PAK, are highly conserved in evolution and participate in both cytoskeletal functions and mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling pathways.
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