ERK Signaling pp 175-194 | Cite as

The Nuclear Translocation of ERK

  • Denise A. Berti
  • Rony SegerEmail author
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 1487)


The ERK1 and ERK2 (ERK1/2) cascade is a central signaling pathway activated by a wide variety of extracellular agents that transmit the messages of G Protein Coupled Receptors (GPCRs) and Receptor Tyrosine Kinases (RTKs). Being such a central pathway, the activity of the cascade is well regulated, including by dynamic changes of the subcellular localization of components of the ERK1/2 cascade. In resting cells, ERK1/2 are localized in the cytosol due to their interactions with different anchoring proteins. After stimulation, ERK1/2 are phosphorylated by MEK1/2 on their regulatory TEY motif, which permits their detachment from the anchoring proteins. This detachment exposes ERK1/2 to additional phosphorylation on two serine residues (SPS motif) within the nuclear translocation signal (NTS) of the kinases. This additional phosphorylation allows ERK1/2 to interact with importin7, which consequently promotes their translocation to the nucleus. More studies are still required in order to better understand the mechanism and consequence of the nuclear translocation of ERK1/2. In this chapter, we describe some of the techniques used to study nuclear translocation of ERK1/2 in mammalian cells. We briefly mention methods such as digitonin permeabilization and cellular fractionation, as well as overexpression of reporter constructs. More thoroughly, we describe immunofluorescence, immunoprecipitation, and proximity ligation assay (PLA) approaches that are routinely used in our laboratory. Hopefully, the increase of knowledge based on these methods will open more opportunities for the identification of new therapeutic targets for diseases where the ERK1/2 cascade is dysregulated, such as cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, and diabetes.

Key words

MAPK ERK Nuclear translocation Immunoflouresence Co-immunoprecipitation Proximity ligation assay 



We would like to thank Tami Hanoch for her help with the preparation of this chapter. This work was supported by a grant from the ISF. R.S. is an incumbent of the Yale S. Lewine and Ella Miller Lewine professorial chair for cancer research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological RegulationThe Weizmann Institute of ScienceRehovotIsrael

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