The extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) 1/2 protein requires a dual phosphorylation at conserved threonine and tyrosine residues to be fully activated under normal physiological conditions. Thus, ERK1/2 kinase activity is often defined by the quantity of phosphorylated kinase. However, this may not accurately represent its true activity under certain pathological conditions. We investigated whether ERK1/2 kinase activity is proportional to its phosphorylation state in a rat focal ischemia model with and without rapid ischemic preconditioning. We showed that phosphorylated-ERK1/2 protein levels were increased 2.6±0.07-fold, and ERK1/2 kinase activity was increased 10.6±1.9-fold in animals receiving ischemic preconditioning alone without test ischemia compared with sham group (P<0.05, n=6/group), suggesting that phosphorylated-ERK1/2 protein levels represent its kinase activity under these conditions. However, preconditioning plus test ischemia robustly blocked ERK1/2 kinase activity, whereas it increased phosphorylated-ERK1/2 protein levels beyond those receiving test ischemia alone, suggesting that phosphorylated-ERK1/2 protein levels were not representative of actual kinase activity in this pathological condition. In conclusion, protein phosphorylation levels of ERK1/2 do not always correspond to kinase activity, thus, measuring the true kinase activity is essential.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2012.02.005
View details for Web of Science ID 000303306600017
View details for PubMedID 22366512
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3322316