Impaired CD28-mediated interleukin 2 production and proliferation in stress kinase SAPK/ERK1 kinase (SEK1)/mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 4 (MKK4)-deficient T lymphocytes.
Nishina H., Bachmann M., Oliveira-dos-Santos AJ., Kozieradzki I., Fischer KD., Odermatt B., Wakeham A., Shahinian A., Takimoto H., Bernstein A., Mak TW., Woodgett JR., Ohashi PS., Penninger JM.
The dual specific kinase SAPK/ERK1 kinase (SEK1; mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 4/Jun NH2 terminal kinase [ JNK] kinase) is a direct activator of stress-activated protein kinases ([SAPKs]/JNKs) in response to CD28 costimulation, CD40 signaling, or activation of the germinal center kinase. Here we show that SEK1(-/-) recombination-activating gene (RAG)2(-/-) chimeric mice have a partial block in B cell maturation. However, peripheral B cells displayed normal responses to IL-4, IgM, and CD40 cross-linking. SEK1(-/-) peripheral T cells showed decreased proliferation and IL-2 production after CD28 costimulation and PMA/Ca2+ ionophore activation. Although CD28 expression was absolutely crucial to generate vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV)-specific germinal centers, SEK1(-/-)RAG2(-/-) chimeras mounted a protective antiviral B cell response, exhibited normal IgG class switching, and made germinal centers in response to VSV. Interestingly, PMA/Ca2+ ionophore stimulation, which mimics TCR-CD3 and CD28-mediated signal transduction, induced SAPK/JNK activation in peripheral T cells, but not in thymocytes, from SEK1(-/-) mice. These results show that signaling pathways for SAPK activation are developmentally regulated in T cells. Although SEK1(-/-) thymocytes failed to induce SAPK/JNK in response to PMA/Ca2+ ionophore, SEK1(-/-)RAG2(-/-) thymocytes proliferated and made IL-2 after PMA/Ca2+ ionophore and CD3/CD28 stimulation, albeit at significantly lower levels compared to SEK1(+/+)RAG2(-/-) thymocytes, implying that CD28 costimulation and PMA/Ca2+ ionophore-triggered signaling pathways exist that can mediate proliferation and IL-2 production independently of SAPK activation. Our data provide the first genetic evidence that SEK1 is an important effector molecule that relays CD28 signaling to IL-2 production and T cell proliferation.