MAPKs in development: insights from Dictyostelium signaling pathways

Jeffrey A. Hadwiger 1  and Hoai-Nghia Nguyen 1
  • 1 Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078-3020, USA


Mitogen activated protein kinases (MAPKs) play important roles in the development of eukaryotic organisms through the regulation of signal transduction pathways stimulated by external signals. MAPK signaling pathways have been associated with the regulation of cell growth, differentiation, and chemotaxis, indicating that MAPKs contribute to a diverse set of developmental processes. In most eukaryotes, the diversity of external signals is likely to far exceed the diversity of MAPKs, suggesting that multiple signaling pathways might share MAPKs. Do different signaling pathways converge before MAPK function or can MAPKs maintain signaling specificity through interactions with specific proteins? The genetic and biochemical analysis of MAPK pathways in simple eukaryotes such as Dictyostelium offers opportunities to investigate functional specificity of MAPKs in G-protein-mediated signal transduction pathways. This review considers the regulation and specificity of MAPK function in pathways that control Dictyostelium growth and development.

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BioMolecular Concepts is a peer-reviewed journal fostering the integration of different fields of biomolecular research. The journal provides expert summaries and conclusive extensions of research data leading to new and original, testable hypotheses. Aspects of research that can promote related fields and lead to novel insight into biological mechanisms are of special interest.