A novel, putative MEK kinase controls developmental timing and spatial patterning in Dictyostelium and is regulated by ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation.
We have identified a developmentally regulated, putative MEK kinase (MEKKalpha) that contains an F-box and WD40 repeats and plays a complex role in regulating cell-type differentiation and spatial patterning. Cells deficient in MEKKalpha develop precociously and exhibit abnormal cell-type patterning with an increase in one of the prestalk compartments (pstO), a concomitant reduction in the prespore domain, and a loss of the sharp compartment boundaries, resulting in overlapping prestalk and prespore domains. Overexpression of MEKKalpha or MEKKalpha lacking the WD40 repeats results in very delayed development and a severe loss of compartment boundaries. Prespore and prestalk cells are interspersed throughout the slug. Analysis of chimeric organisms suggests that MEKKalpha function is required for the proper induction and maintenance of prespore cell differentiation. We show that the WD40 repeats target MEKKalpha to the cortical region of the cell, whereas the F-box/WD40 repeats direct ubiquitin-mediated MEKKalpha degradation. We identify a UBC and a UBP (ubiquitin hydrolase) that interact with the F-box/WD40 repeats. Our findings indicate that cells lacking the ubiquitin hydrolase have phenotypes similar to those of MEKKalpha null (mekkalpha-) cells, further supporting a direct genetic and biochemical interaction between MEKKalpha, the UBC, and the UBP. We demonstrate that UBC and UBP differentially control MEKKalpha ubiquitination/deubiquitination and degradation through the F-box/WD40 repeats in a cell-type-specific and temporally regulated manner. Our results represent a novel mechanism that includes targeted protein degradation by which MAP kinase cascade components can be controlled. More importantly, our findings suggest a new paradigm of spatial and temporal control of the kinase activity controlling spatial patterning during multicellular development, which parallels the temporally regulated degradation of proteins required for cell-cycle progression.
Chung, CY; Reddy, TB; Zhou, K; Firtel, RA
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