Nuclear translocation of the tagged endogenous MAPK MPK-1 denotes a subset of activation events in C. elegans development. Academic Article uri icon


  • The extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERKs) are mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) that are utilized downstream of Ras to Raf to MEK signaling to control activation of a wide array of targets. Activation of ERKs is elevated in Ras-driven tumors and RASopathies, and thus is a target for pharmacological inhibition. Regulatory mechanisms of ERK activation have been studied extensively in vitro and in cultured cells, but little in living animals. In this study, we tagged the Caenorhabditis elegans ERK-encoding gene, mpk-1. MPK-1 is ubiquitously expressed with elevated expression in certain contexts. We detected cytosol-to-nuclear translocation of MPK-1 in maturing oocytes and hence validated nuclear translocation as a reporter of some activation events. During patterning of vulval precursor cells (VPCs), MPK-1 is necessary and sufficient for the central cell, P6.p, to assume the primary fate. Yet MPK-1 translocates to the nuclei of all six VPCs in a temporal and concentration gradient centered on P6.p. This observation contrasts with previous results using the ERK nuclear kinase translocation reporter of substrate activation, raising questions about mechanisms and indicators of MPK-1 activation. This system and reagent promise to provide critical insights into the regulation of MPK-1 activation within a complex intercellular signaling network.

published proceedings

  • J Cell Sci

altmetric score

  • 3.1

author list (cited authors)

  • Rasmussen, N. R., & Reiner, D. J.

citation count

  • 2

complete list of authors

  • Rasmussen, Neal R||Reiner, David J

publication date

  • September 2021