Analysis of a developmental mutant in Dictyostelium discoideum which is unable to initiate morphogenesis has shown that a protein kinase of the MAP kinase/ERK family affects relay of the cAMP chemotactic signal and cell differentiation. Strains in which the locus encoding ERK2 is disrupted respond to a pulse of cAMP by synthesizing cGMP normally but show little synthesis of cAMP. Since mutant cells lacking ERK2 contain normal levels of both the cytosolic regulator of adenylyl cyclase (CRAC) and manganese-activatable adenylyl cyclase, it appears that this kinase is important for receptor-mediated activation of adenylyl cyclase.

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