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Characterization Of Regulatory Events Associated With Membrane Targeting Of P90 Ribosomal S6 Kinase 1

Stephanie A. Richards, Valley C. Dreisbach, Leon O. Murphy, John Blenis

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ABSTRACT RSK is a serine/threonine kinase containing two distinct catalytic domains. Found at the terminus of the Ras/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)–mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) kinase cascade, mitogen-stimulated ribosomal S6 kinase (RSK) activity requires multiple inputs. These inputs include phosphorylation of the C-terminal kinase domain activation loop by ERK1/2 and phosphorylation of the N-terminal kinase domain activation loop by phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase-1 (PDK1). Previous work has shown that upon mitogen stimulation, RSK accumulates in the nucleus. Here we show that prior to nuclear translocation, epidermal growth factor-stimulated RSK1 transiently associates with the plasma membrane. Myristylation of wild-type RSK1 results in an activated enzyme in the absence of added growth factors. When RSK is truncated at the C terminus, the characterized ERK docking is removed and RSK phosphotransferase activity is completely abolished. When myristylated, however, this myristylated C-terminal truncated form (myrCTT) is activated at a level equivalent to myristylated wild-type (myrWT) RSK. Both myrWT RSK and myrCTT RSK can signal to the RSK substrate c-Fos in the absence of mitogen activation. Unlike myrWT RSK, myrCTT RSK is not further activated by serum. Only the myristylated RSK proteins are basally phosphorylated on avian RSK1 serine 381, a site critical for RSK activity. The myristylated and unmyristylated RSK constructs interact with PDK1 upon mitogen stimulation, and this interaction is insensitive to the MEK inhibitor UO126. Because a kinase-inactive CTT RSK can be constitutively activated by targeting to the membrane, we propose that ERK may have a dual role in early RSK activation events: preliminary phosphorylation of RSK and escorting RSK to a membrane-associated complex, where additional MEK/ERK-independent activating inputs are encountered.