Mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) regulate critical signaling pathways involved in cell proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis. Recent studies have shown that a novel class of scaffold proteins mediates the structural and functional organization of the three-tier MAPK module. By linking the MAP3K, MAP2K and MAPK into a multienzyme complex, these MAPK-specific scaffold proteins provide an insulated physical conduit through which signals from the respective MAPK can be transmitted to the appropriate spatiotemporal cellular loci. Scaffold proteins play a determinant role in modulating the signaling strength of their cognate MAPK module by regulating the signal amplitude and duration. The scaffold proteins themselves are finely regulated resulting in dynamic intra- and inter-molecular interactions that can modulate the signaling outputs of MAPK modules. This review focuses on defining the diverse mechanisms by which these scaffold proteins interact with their respective MAPK modules and the role of such interactions in the spatiotemporal organization as well as context-specific signaling of the different MAPK modules.
- Scaffold proteins