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Brain Res Mol Brain Res. 2000 Jan 10;75(1):16-24.

Calmodulin-dependent activation of p38 and p42/44 mitogen-activated protein kinases contributes to c-fos expression by calcium in PC12 cells: modulation by nitric oxide.

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Department of Physiology, College of Medicine, Dong-A University, South Korea.


Calcium and nitric oxide (NO) are important messengers for the activity-dependent immediate-early gene (IEG) expressions in neuronal cells. In the present study, we have investigated the roles of two mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases, extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase (ERK) and p38 MAP kinase (p38 kinase) in calcium- and NO-induced c-fos expression in PC12 cells. Membrane depolarization-induced calcium increases activated both ERK and p38 kinase within 5 min. The activation of both ERK and p38 kinase by calcium was a calmodulin-dependent process since the pretreatment of W13 or calmidazolium, specific calmodulin antagonists, blocked calcium-induced activation of both MAP kinases. Calcium-induced c-fos expression was significantly reduced by the pretreatment of either MEK inhibitor (PD98059) or p38 kinase inhibitor (SB203580). This finding indicates that the calmodulin-dependent activation of ERK and p38 kinase is involved in calcium-induced c-fos expression. However, sodium nitroprusside and SIN-1, known to release NO, dose-dependently activated only ERK. NO-induced c-fos expression was partially inhibited by the PD98059. We also observed that NO dose-dependently potentiates not only calcium-induced c-fos expression but also calcium-induced ERK activation. In the presence of PD98059, the amplification of calcium-induced c-fos expression by NO was not observed. This result suggests that calcium- and NO-signals converge into the MEK/ERK pathway, thereby enhance IEG expressions in neuronal cells.

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