Mapping p38α mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling by proximity-dependent labeling

Emmanuel Prikas, Anne Poljak, Arne Ittner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase signaling is central to multiple cellular responses and processes. MAP kinase p38α is the best characterized member of the p38 MAP kinase family. Upstream factors and downstream targets of p38α have been identified in the past by conventional methods such as coimmunoprecipitation. However, a complete picture of its interaction partners and substrates in cells is lacking. Here, we employ a proximity-dependent labeling approach using biotinylation tagging to map the interactome of p38α in cultured 293T cells. Fusing the advanced biotin ligase BioID2 to the N-terminus of p38α, we used mass spectrometry to identify 37 biotin-labeled proteins that putatively interact with p38α. Gene ontology analysis confirms known upstream and downstream factors in the p38 MAP kinase cascade (e.g., MKK3, MAPKAPK2, TAB2, and c-jun). We furthermore identify a cluster of zinc finger (ZnF) domain-containing proteins that is significantly enriched among proximity-labeled interactors and is involved in gene transcription and DNA damage response. Fluorescence imaging and coimmunoprecipitation with overexpressed p38α in cells supports an interaction of p38α with ZnF protein XPA, a key factor in the DNA damage response, that is promoted by UV irradiation. These results define an extensive network of interactions of p38α in cells and new direct molecular targets of MAP kinase p38α in gene regulation and the DNA damage response.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1196-1210
Number of pages15
JournalProtein Science
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020


  • BioID
  • biotinylation
  • interactome
  • MAP kinase
  • p38
  • p38α
  • protein–protein interaction
  • proximity-dependent labeling


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