Effects of phorbol ester on mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase activity in wild-type and phorbol ester-resistant EL4 thymoma cells.
Phorbol ester-sensitive and -resistant EL4 thymoma cell lines differ in their ability to activate mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) in response to phorbol ester. Treatment of wild-type EL4 cells with phorbol ester results in the rapid activations of MAPK and pp90rsk kinase, a substrate for MAPK, while neither kinase is activated in response to phorbol ester in variant EL4 cells. This study examines the activation of MAPK kinase (MAPKK), an activator of MAPK, in wild-type and variant EL4 cells. Phosphorylation of a 40-kDa substrate, identified as MAPK, was observed following in vitro phosphorylation reactions using cytosolic extracts or Mono Q column fractions prepared from phorbol ester-treated wild-type EL4 cells. MAPKK activity coeluted with a portion of theinactive MAPK upon Mono Q anion-exchange chromatography, permitting detection ofthe MAPKK activity in fractions containing both kinases. This MAPKK activity waspresent in phorbol ester-treated wild-type cells, but not in phorbol ester-treated variant cells or in untreated wild-type or variant cells. The MAPKK from wild-type cells was able to activate MAPK prepared from either wild-type orvariant cells. MAPKK activity could be stimulated in both wildtype and variant EL4 cells in response to treatment of cells with okadaic acid. These results indicate that the failure of variant EL4 cells to activate MAP kinase in response to phorbol ester is due to a failure to activate MAPKK. Therefore, the step thatconfers phorbol ester resistance to variant EL4 cells lies between the activation of protein kinase C and the activation of MAPKK.