The Atypical MAPK ERK3 Potently Suppresses Melanoma Cell Growth and Invasiveness

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Mitogen‐activated protein kinase 6 (MAPK6) represents an atypical MAPK also known as extracellular signal‐regulated kinase 3 (ERK3), which has been shown to play roles in cell motility and metastasis. ERK3 promotes migration and invasion of lung cancer cells and head and neck cancer cells by regulating the expression and/or activity of proteins involved in cancer progression. For instance, ERK3 upregulates matrix metallopeptidases and thereby promotes cancer cell invasiveness, and it phosphorylates tyrosyl‐DNA phosphodiesterase 2, thereby enhancing chemoresistance in lung cancer. Here we discovered that ERK3 plays a converse role in melanoma. We observed that BRAF, an oncogenic Ser/Thr kinase, upregulates ERK3 expression levels by increasing both ERK3 messenger RNA levels and protein stability. Interestingly, although BRAF's kinase activity was required for upregulating ERK3 gene transcription, BRAF stabilized ERK3 protein in a kinase‐independent fashion. We further demonstrate that ERK3 inhibits the migration, proliferation and colony formation of melanoma cells. In line with this, high level of ERK3 predicted increased survival among patients with melanomas. Taken together, these results indicate that ERK3 acts as a potent suppressor of melanoma cell growth and invasiveness.



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