Large-Scale Discovery of ERK2 Substrates Identifies ERK-Mediated Transcriptional Regulation by ETV3

Sci. Signal., 25 October 2011
Vol. 4, Issue 196, p. rs11
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2002010

Large-Scale Discovery of ERK2 Substrates Identifies ERK-Mediated Transcriptional Regulation by ETV3

  1. Scott M. Carlson1,2,
  2. Candace R. Chouinard1,
  3. Adam Labadorf1,
  4. Carol J. Lam1,
  5. Katrin Schmelzle1,
  6. Ernest Fraenkel1,3, and
  7. Forest M. White1,2,*
  1. 1Department of Biological Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.
  2. 2Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.
  3. 3Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.
  1. *To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: fwhite{at}


The mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) extracellular signal–regulated kinase 2 (ERK2) is ubiquitously expressed in mammalian tissues and is involved in a wide range of biological processes. Although MAPKs have been intensely studied, identification of their substrates remains challenging. We have optimized a chemical genetic system using analog-sensitive ERK2, a form of ERK2 engineered to use an analog of adenosine 5′-triphosphate (ATP), to tag and isolate ERK2 substrates in vitro. This approach identified 80 proteins phosphorylated by ERK2, 13 of which are known ERK2 substrates. The 80 substrates are associated with diverse cellular processes, including regulation of transcription and translation, mRNA processing, and regulation of the activity of the Rho family guanosine triphosphatases. We found that one of the newly identified substrates, ETV3 (a member of the E twenty-six family of transcriptional regulators), was extensively phosphorylated on sites within canonical and noncanonical ERK motifs. Phosphorylation of ETV3 regulated transcription by preventing its binding to DNA at promoters for several thousand genes, including some involved in negative feedback regulation of itself and of upstream signals.


S. M. Carlson, C. R. Chouinard, A. Labadorf, C. J. Lam, K. Schmelzle, E. Fraenkel, and F. M. White, Large-Scale Discovery of ERK2 Substrates Identifies ERK-Mediated Transcriptional Regulation by ETV3. Sci. Signal. 4, rs11 (2011).

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