The MAPK/ERK pathway is a chain of proteins in the cell that communicates a signal from a receptor on the surface of the cell to the DNA in the nucleus of the cell. The signal starts when a signaling molecule binds to the receptor on the cell surface and ends when the DNA in the nucleus expresses a protein and produces some change in the cell, such as cell division. The pathway includes many proteins, including MAPK (Mitogen-activated protein kinases, originally called ERK, Extracellular signal-regulated kinases), which communicate by adding phosphate groups to a neighboring protein, which acts as an "on" or "off" switch. Also known as the Ras-Raf-MEK-ERK pathway.
When one of the proteins in the pathway is mutated, it can be stuck in the "on" or "off" position, which is a necessary step in the development of many cancers. Components of the MAPK/ERK pathway were discovered when they were found in cancer cells. Drugs that reverse the "on" or "off" switch are being investigated as cancer treatments.
|Cell Signalling Biology||csb002_sec009|
|Involvement in Alzheimer's disease|
As early as 1992, MAPK have been implicated in the generation of Alzheimer's disease phenotypes via its effect on tau. Recently, it has been suggested that MAPK phosphorylation was affected by Amyloid beta. MAPK inhibitors are even suggested as treatments.