A cDNA was cloned and expressed that encodes human stress-activated protein kinase kinase-4 (SKK4), a novel MAP kinase kinase family member whose mRNA is widely expressed in human tissues. SKK4 activated SAPK1/JNK in vitro, but not SAPK2a/p38, SAPK2b/p38β, SAPK3/ERK6 or SAPK4. It appears to be the mammalian homologue of HEP, an activator of SAPK1/JNK in Drosophila. In human epithelial KB cells SKK4 and SKK1/MKK4 (another activator of SAPK1/ JNK) were both activated by stressful stimuli, but only SKK4 was activated by proinflammatory cytokines. The identification of SKK4 explains why the major SAPK1/JNK activator detected in many mammalian cell extracts is chromatographically separable from SKK1/MKK4.
- MAP kinase