Author ORCID Identifier

Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry

First Advisor

Dr. Emilia Galperin


Signaling scaffolds are critical for the correct spatial organization of enzymes within the ERK1/2 signaling pathway and proper transmission of intracellular information. However, mechanisms that control molecular dynamics within scaffolding complexes, as well as biological activities regulated by the specific assemblies, remain unclear.

The scaffold protein Shoc2 is critical for transmission of the ERK1/2 pathway signals. Shoc2 accelerates ERK1/2 signaling by integrating Ras and RAF-1 enzymes into a multi-protein complex. Germ-line mutations in shoc2 cause Noonan-like RASopathy, a disorder with a wide spectrum of developmental deficiencies. However, the physiological role of Shoc2, the nature of ERK1/2 signals transduced through this complex or mechanisms regulating the function of Shoc2 remain largely unknown. My dissertation addresses the mechanisms by which Shoc2 accelerates ERK1/2 signal transmission and the biological outputs of the Shoc2-guided signals.

To delineate Shoc2-mediated ERK1/2 signals, I have utilized a vertebrate zebrafish model. I demonstrated that loss of Shoc2 protein expression leads to early embryonic lethality resulting from a significant reduction in the number of circulating erythropoietic and myelopoietic blood cells, underdeveloped neurocranial and pharyngeal cartilages, and a profound delay in calcification of bone structures. Together, this data demonstrates that the Shoc2 scaffolding module transmits ERK1/2 signals in neural crest development and blood cell differentiation.

This dissertation also addresses the mechanistic basis of how allosteric ubiquitination of Shoc2 and RAF-1 is controlled. I have characterized a molecular interaction of Shoc2 with its previously unknown binding partner Valosin-Containing Protein (VCP/p97). These studies demonstrated that hexametric ATPase VCP modulates ubiquitination of Shoc2 and RAF-1 through the remodeling of the scaffolding complex in a spatial-restricted manner. Experiments utilizing fluorescence microscopy and biochemical methods show that VCP/p97 sequesters the E3 ligase HUWE1 from the Shoc2 module, thereby altering the ubiquitination of Shoc2 and RAF-1 as well as the amplitude of ERK1/2 signals. These studies also show that the levels of Shoc2 ubiquitination and ERK1/2 phosphorylation are imbalanced in fibroblasts isolated from Inclusion Body Myopathy with Paget’s disease of bone and Frontotemporal Dementia (IBMPFD) patients harboring VCP germline mutations. This data also suggests that ERK1/2 pathway deregulation is part of IBMPFD pathogenesis.

In summary, these studies make a significant advance in our understanding of the mechanisms by which the Shoc2 scaffold regulates specificity and the dynamics of the ERK1/2 signaling networks. They also make important insights into our understanding of biological activities and targets of Shoc2-mediated ERK1/2 signals at the early stages of embryonic development and disease.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

This work was supported by, American Heart Association (15PRE25090207), National Institute of General Medical Sciences (P20GM103486), National Cancer Institute (R00CA126161), American Cancer Society (RSG-14-172-01-CSM).