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Open Access Review

Tumour promoting and suppressing roles of the atypical MAP kinase signalling pathway ERK3/4-MK5

Sergiy Kostenko, Gianina Dumitriu and Ugo Moens*

Author Affiliations

Department of Medical Biology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Tromsø, Tromsø, NO-9037, Norway

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Journal of Molecular Signaling 2012, 7:9  doi:10.1186/1750-2187-7-9

Published: 16 July 2012


Perturbed action of signal transduction pathways, including the mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase pathways, is one of the hallmarks of many cancers. While the implication of the typical MAP kinase pathways ERK1/2-MEK1/2, p38MAPK and JNK is well established, recent findings illustrate that the atypical MAP kinase ERK3/4-MK5 may also be involved in tumorigenic processes. Remarkably, the ERK3/4-MK5 pathway seems to possess anti-oncogenic as well as pro-oncogenic properties in cell culture and aninal models. This review summarizes the mutations in the genes encoding ERK3, ERK4 and MK5 that have been detected in different cancers, reports aberrant expression levels of these proteins in human tumours, and discusses the mechanisms by which this pathway can induce senescence, stimulate angiogenesis and invasiveness.

PRAK; RAS; c-MYC; IGB2PB; Angiogenesis; Senescence; HSP27; FOXO3a