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J Biol Chem. 2000 Dec 15;275(50):38973-80.

The p38 pathway provides negative feedback for Ras proliferative signaling.

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Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Department of Molecular Biology, Cleveland, Ohio 44195, USA.


Ras activates three mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) including ERK, JNK, and p38. Whereas the essential roles of ERK and JNK in Ras signaling has been established, the contribution of p38 remains unclear. Here we demonstrate that the p38 pathway functions as a negative regulator of Ras proliferative signaling via a feedback mechanism. Oncogenic Ras activated p38 and two p38-activated protein kinases, MAPK-activated protein kinase 2 (MK2) and p38-related/activated protein kinase (PRAK). MK2 and PRAK in turn suppressed Ras-induced gene expression and cell proliferation, whereas two mutant PRAKs, unresponsive to Ras, had little effect. Moreover, the constitutive p38 activator MKK6 also suppressed Ras activity in a p38-dependent manner whereas arsenite, a potent chemical inducer of p38, inhibited proliferation only in a tumor cell line that required Ras activity. MEK was required for Ras stimulation of the p38 pathway. The p38 pathway inhibited Ras activity by blocking activation of JNK, without effect upon ERK, as evidenced by the fact that PRAK-mediated suppression of Ras-induced cell proliferation was reversed by coexpression of JNKK2 or JNK1. These studies thus establish a negative feedback mechanism by which Ras proliferative activity is regulated via signaling integrations of MAPK pathways.

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