Autophosphorylation of the Smk1 MAPK is spatially and temporally regulated by Ssp2 during meiotic development in yeast.

Smk1 is a meiosis-specific MAPK that controls spore wall morphogenesis in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Although Smk1 is activated by phosphorylation of the threonine (T) and tyrosine (Y) in its activation loop, it is not phosphorylated by a dual-specificity MAPK kinase. Instead, the T is phosphorylated by the cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK)-activating kinase, Cak1. The Y is autophosphorylated in an intramolecular reaction that requires a meiosis-specific protein named Ssp2. The meiosis-specific CDK-like kinase, Ime2, was previously shown to positively regulate Smk1. Here we show that Ime2 activity is required to induce the translation of SSP2 mRNA at anaphase II. Ssp2 protein is then localized to the prospore membrane, the structure where spore wall assembly takes place. Next the carboxy-terminal portion of Ssp2 forms a complex with Smk1 and stimulates the autophosphorylation of its activation-loop Y residue. These findings link Ime2 to Smk1 activation through Ssp2 and define a developmentally regulated mechanism for activating MAPK at specific locations in the cell.
Mol. Biol. Cell Oct. 01, 2015; 26(19);3546-55 [PUBMED:26246597]
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