Scaffold coupling: ERK activation by trans-phosphorylation across different scaffold protein species.

Ana Martín-Vega, Laura Ruiz-Peinado, Rocío García-Gómez, Ana Herrero, Dalia de la Fuente-Vivas, Swetha Parvathaneni, Rubén Caloto, Marta Morante, Alexander von Kriegsheim, Xosé R Bustelo, David B Sacks, Berta Casar, Piero Crespo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

RAS-ERK (extracellular signal-regulated kinase) pathway signals are modulated by scaffold proteins that assemble the components of different kinase tiers into a sequential phosphorylation cascade. In the prevailing model scaffold proteins function as isolated entities, where the flux of phosphorylation events progresses downstream linearly, to achieve ERK phosphorylation. We show that different types of scaffold proteins, specifically KSR1 (kinase suppressor of Ras 1) and IQGAP1 (IQ motif-containing guanosine triphosphatase activating protein 1), can bind to each other, forming a complex whereby phosphorylation reactions occur across both species. MEK (mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase) bound to IQGAP1 can phosphorylate ERK docked at KSR1, a process that we have named "trans-phosphorylation." We also reveal that ERK trans-phosphorylation participates in KSR1-regulated adipogenesis, and it also underlies the modest cytotoxicity exhibited by KSR-directed inhibitors. Overall, we identify interactions between scaffold proteins and trans-phosphorylation as an additional level of regulation in the ERK cascade, with broad implications in signaling and the design of scaffold protein-aimed therapeutics.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScience Advances
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2023


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