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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1999 Oct 12;96(21):12016-20.

Suppression or induction of apoptosis by opposing pathways downstream from calcium-activated calcineurin.

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Department of Molecular Genetics, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot 76100, Israel.


Ca(2+)-mobilizing compounds such as the Ca(2+) ionophore A23187 or the endoplasmic reticulum Ca(2+) ATPase inhibitor thapsigargin can suppress or induce apoptosis in the same cells. The use of different calcineurin inhibitors has shown that both suppression and induction of apoptosis by the Ca(2+)-mobilizing compounds were mediated by calcineurin activation. Ca(2+)-mobilizing compounds activated p38 and p44/42 mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs). Induction of apoptosis by the Ca(2+)-mobilizing compounds was suppressed by an inhibitor of p38 MAPK but not by an inhibitor of p44/42 MAPK. These MAPK inhibitors did not suppress apoptosis induction by wild-type p53 or by withdrawal of IL-6 from IL-6-dependent cells that are mediated by calcineurin-independent pathways. These MAPK inhibitors also did not affect the ability of Ca(2+)-mobilizing compounds to suppress apoptosis. The results indicate that (i) Ca(2+)- mobilizing compounds activate different and opposing pathways that diverge downstream from calcineurin activation that can either suppress or induce apoptosis in the same cells; (ii) p38 MAPK but not p44/42 MAPK is involved in induction of apoptosis but not in its suppression by the Ca(2+)-mobilizing compounds; and (iii) neither p38 nor p44/42 MAPKs mediate induction of apoptosis by some calcineurin-independent pathways.

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