Research ArticleImmunology

ERKs Induce Expression of the Transcriptional Repressor Blimp-1 and Subsequent Plasma Cell Differentiation

Sci. Signal.  19 Apr 2011:
Vol. 4, Issue 169, pp. ra25
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2001592

You are currently viewing the editor's summary.

View Full Text
As a service to the community, AAAS/Science has made this article free with registration.

Differential Role for ERKs

Given that cellular differentiation is associated with cell cycle arrest, the processes of differentiation and proliferation are thought to be mutually exclusive, and the transcriptional programs underlying these events are frequently stimulated by distinct extracellular cues. The extracellular signal–regulated kinase (ERK) signaling pathway is responsible for driving proliferation in many cell types, including immune cells, and thus is thought to be involved only in dividing cells (see the Perspective by Allman and Cancro). In B cells, the transcriptional program of proliferating cells is suppressed by the transcriptional repressor Blimp-1, which is required for the differentiation of B cells into antibody-presenting plasma cells, a terminally differentiated cell type. Through experiments with mice deficient in both ERK1 and ERK2 in B cells, Yasuda et al. provide evidence of a critical role for the ERKs in driving the differentiation of plasma cells and show that ERK signaling is required for the expression of Blimp-1. Together, these data expand the role of ERK signaling in B cells and should prompt investigation of the potential involvement of ERK proteins in the differentiation of other cell types.