Evolutionary genomic relationships and coupling in MK-STYX and STYX pseudophosphatases

Yi Qi, Di Kuang, Kylan Kelley, William J. Buchser, Shantá D. Hinton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The dual specificity phosphatase (DUSP) family has catalytically inactive members, called pseudophosphatases. They have mutations in their catalytic motifs that render them enzymatically inactive. This study analyzes the significance of two pseudophosphatases, MK-STYX [MAPK (mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphoserine/threonine/tyrosine-binding protein]) and STYX (serine/threonine/tyrosine-interacting protein), throughout their evolution and provides measurements and comparison of their evolutionary conservation. Phylogenetic trees were constructed to show any deviation from various species evolutionary paths. Data was collected on a large set of proteins that have either one of the two domains of MK-STYX, the DUSP domain or the cdc-25 homology (CH2) /rhodanese-like domain. The distance between species pairs for MK-STYX or STYX and Ka/Ks ratio were calculated. In addition, both pseudophosphatases were ranked among a large set of related proteins, including the active homologs of MK-STYX, MKP (MAPK phosphatase)-1 and MKP-3. MK-STYX had one of the highest species-species protein distances and was under weaker purifying selection pressure than most proteins with its domains. In contrast, the protein distances of STYX were lower than 82% of the DUSP-containing proteins and was under one of the strongest purifying selection pressures. However, there was similar selection pressure on the N-terminal sequences of MK-STYX, STYX, MKP-1, and MKP-3. We next perform statistical coupling analysis, a process that reveals interconnected regions within the proteins. We find that while MKP-1,-3, and STYX all have 2 functional units (sectors), MK-STYX only has one, and that MK-STYX is similar to MKP-3 in the evolutionary coupling of the active site and KIM domain. Within those two domains, the mean coupling is also most similar for MK-STYX and MKP-3. This study reveals striking distinctions between the evolutionary patterns of MK-STYX and STYX, suggesting a very specific role for each pseudophosphatase, further highlighting the relevance of these atypical members of DUSP as signaling regulators. Therefore, our study provides computational evidence and evolutionary reasons to further explore the properties of pseudophosphatases, in particular MK-STYX and STYX.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4139
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


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