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Circ Res. 2001 Feb 16;88(3):305-12.

Cytoprotection by Jun kinase during nitric oxide-induced cardiac myocyte apoptosis.

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  • 1Department of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology, University of Miami, FL, USA.


Nitric oxide (NO) induces apoptosis in cardiac myocytes through an oxidant-sensitive mechanism. However, additional factors appear to modulate the exact timing and rate of NO-dependent apoptosis. In this study, we investigated the role of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) (extracellular signal-regulated kinase [ERK] 1/2, c-Jun N-terminal kinase [JNK] 1/2, and p38MAPK) in NO-mediated apoptotic signaling. The NO donor S:-nitrosoglutathione (GSNO) induced caspase-dependent apoptosis in neonatal rat cardiac myocytes, preceded by a rapid (<10-minute) and significant (approximately 50-fold) activation of JNK1/2. Activation of JNK was cGMP dependent and was inversely related to NO concentration; it was maximal at the lowest dose of GSNO (10 micromol/L) and negligible at 1 mmol/L. NO slightly increased ERK1/2 beginning at 2 hours but did not affect p38MAPK activity. Inhibitors of ERK and p38MAPK activation did not affect cell death rates. In contrast, expression of dominant-negative JNK1 or MKK4 mutants significantly increased NO-induced apoptosis at 5 hours (56.77% and 57.37%, respectively, versus control, 40.5%), whereas MEKK1, an upstream activator of JNK, sharply reduced apoptosis in a JNK-dependent manner. Adenovirus-mediated expression of dominant-negative JNK1 both eliminated the rapid activation of JNK by NO and accelerated NO-mediated apoptosis by approximately 2 hours. These data indicate that NO activates JNK as part of a cytoprotective response, concurrent with initiation of apoptotic signaling. Early, transient activation of JNK serves both to delay and to reduce the total extent of apoptosis in cardiac myocytes.

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