Molecular cloning, characterization and functional analysis of a putative mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase 4 (MEKK4) from blood clamTegillarca granosa

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The mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascades stand for one of the most important signaling mechanisms in response to environmental stimuli. In the present study, we cloned and identified for the first time the full-length cDNA of MAPK kinase kinase 4 (TgMEKK4) from Blood clam Tegillarca granosa using rapid amplification of cDNA ends method. The full-length cDNA of TgMEKK4 was of 1605 bp in length, encoding a polypeptide of 364 amino acids with a predicted molecular mass of 41.22 kDa and theoretical isoelectric point of 6.29. The conserved MEKK4-domain was identified in TgMEKK4 by SMART program analysis. Homology analysis of the deduced amino acid sequence of TgMEKK4 with other known sequences revealed that TgMEKK4 shared 58%–80% identity to MEKK4s from other species. TgMEKK4 mRNA transcripts could be detected in all tissues examined with the highest expression level in the gill by qRT-PCR. The mRNA expression of TgMEKK4 was up-regulated significantly in hemocytes after Vibrio parahaemolyticus, Vibrio alginolyticus and Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) challenges. Overexpression of TgMEKK4 in HEK 293T cells resulted in the activation of JNK and ERK, but not p38. Consistently, In vivo study indicated that LPS stimulation enhanced JNK, ERK and p38 phosphorylation in blood clams. These results suggest that TgMEKK4 is a powerful factor in the regulation of genes that may be involved in innate immune response of blood clam.

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