ERK1 and ERK2 (also known as MAPK3 and MAPK1) are 44- and 42-kDa Ser/Thr kinases, respectively. They are part of the Ras-Raf-ERK signal transduction cascade often found downstream of growth factor receptor activation. ERK1 and ERK2 were initially isolated and cloned as kinases activated in response to insulin and NGF. They are expressed in most, if not all, mammalian tissues. Dual threonine and tyrosine phosphorylation activate both ERKs, at Thr202/Tyr204 for human ERK1 and Thr185/Tyr187 for human ERK2.
ERK1 is involved in various cellular proliferation, differentiation, and cell cycle progression in response to a variety of extracellular signals making it useful for the study of processes like angiogenesis, neurogenesis and tumorigenesis. The activation of ERK by proinflammatory stimuli may play important roles in innate immune responses and autoimmunity.