Mitogen activated protein kinase phosphatase-3 (MKP-3) is a putative tumor suppressor. When transiently overexpressed, MKP-3 dephosphorylates and inactivates extracellular signal regulated kinase (ERK) 1/2. Little is known about the roles of endogenous MKP-3, however. We previously showed that MKP-3 is upregulated in cell lines that express oncogenic Ras. Here we tested the roles of endogenous MKP-3 in modulating ERK1/2 under conditions of chronic stimulation of the Ras/Raf/MEK1/2/ERK1/2 pathway by expression of oncogenic Ras. We used two cell lines: H-ras MCF10A, breast epithelial cells engineered to express H-Ras, and DLD-1, colon cancer cells that express endogenous Ki-Ras. First, we found that MKP-3 acts in a negative feedback loop to suppress basal ERK1/2 when oncogenic Ras stimulates the Ras/Raf/MEK1/2/ERK1/2 cascade. ERK1/2 was required to maintain elevated MKP-3, indicative of a negative feedback loop. Accordingly, knockdown of MKP-3, via siRNA, increased ERK1/2 phosphorylation. Second, by using siRNA, we found that MKP-3 helps establish the sensitivity of ERK1/2 to extracellular activators by limiting the duration of ERK1/2 phosphorylation. Third, we found that the regulation of ERK1/2 by MKP-3 is countered by the complex regulation of MKP-3 by ERK1/2. Potent ERK1/2 activators stimulated the loss of MKP-3 within 30 min due to an ERK1/2-dependent decrease in MKP-3 protein stability. MKP-3 levels recovered within 120 min due to ERK1/2-dependent resynthesis. Preventing MKP-3 resynthesis, via siRNA, prolonged ERK1/2 phosphorylation. Altogether, these results suggest that under the pressure of oncogenic Ras expression, MKP-3 reins in ERK1/2 by serving in ERK1/2-dependent negative feedback pathways.
- Extracellular signal regulated kinase
- Mitogen activated protein kinase phosphatase-3