IκB kinase regulation of the TPL-2/ERK MAPK pathway


Nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) activation play central roles in the induction of gene expression in innate immune cells following pathogen recognition. TPL-2 (tumor progression locus 2) is the MAP 3-kinase component of an ERK-1/2 (extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2) MAPK pathway activated by Toll-like receptor and tumor necrosis factor receptor family stimulation. In this review, we discuss results obtained from our laboratory and others that show that TPL-2 signaling function is directly controlled by the inhibitor of NF-κB (IκB) kinase (IKK) complex. Significantly, this means that IKK controls both NF-κB and ERK activation. TPL-2 is stoichiometrically complexed with the NF-κB inhibitory protein, NF-κB1 p105, and the ubiquitin-binding protein ABIN-2, both of which are required to maintain TPL-2 protein stability. Binding to p105 also prevents TPL-2 from phosphorylating MEK (MAPK/ERK kinase), its downstream target. Agonist stimulation releases TPL-2 from p105-inhibition by IKK-mediated phosphorylation of p105, which triggers degradation of p105 by the proteasome. This facilitates TPL-2 phosphorylation of MEK, in addition to liberating p105-associated Rel subunits to translocate into the nucleus. We also examine evidence that TPL-2 is critical for the induction of inflammation and may play a role in development and/or progression of certain types of cancer. Finally, we consider the potential of TPL-2 as an anti-inflammatory drug target for treatment of certain types of inflammatory disease and cancer.

Journal details

Volume 246
Issue number 1
Pages 168-182
Publication date


Type of publication

Crick labs/facilities