MAP kinases phosphorylate specific groups of substrate proteins. Here we show that the amino acid sequence FXFP is an evolutionarily conserved docking site that mediates ERK MAP kinase binding to substrates in multiple protein families. FXFP and the D box, a different docking site, form a modular recognition system, as they can function independently or in combination. FXFP is specific for ERK, whereas the D box mediates binding to ERK and JNK MAP kinase, suggesting that the partially overlapping substrate specificities of ERK and JNK result from recognition of shared and unique docking sites. These findings enabled us to predict new ERK substrates and design peptide inhibitors of ERK that functioned in vitro and in vivo.
- ETS transcription factor
- MAP kinase