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J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2002 Apr;34(4):483-92.

Activation of protein kinase B/Akt by urocortin is essential for its ability to protect cardiac cells against hypoxia/reoxygenation-induced cell death.

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Medical Molecular Biology Unit, Institute of Child Health, 30 Guilford Street, London, WC1N 1EH, UK.


Urocortin (Ucn), is a peptide related to hypothalamic corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF) and binds with a high affinity to the CRF-R2 beta receptor which is expressed in the heart. Ucn promotes cardiac myocyte survival against hypoxia reoxygenation (HR) injury and this involves activation of the mitogen activated protein kinase pathway (MEK1/2 p42/44 MAPK). In this study we report that Ucn stimulates the phosphorylation of protein kinase B (PKB/Akt) via phosphatidylinositol (PI) 3-OH kinase (PI-3 kinase). To investigate the signalling pathways that mediate the anti-apoptotic and cell survival effect of Ucn in hypoxia reoxygenation (HR), gene based inhibitors of MEK1/2, PI-3 kinase and Akt were over-expressed in rat neonatal cardiac myocytes and cell survival effects against HR were assessed. The dominant negative mutants of the MEK1/2, PI-3 kinase and Akt inhibited Ucn mediated cardioprotection in HR and active PI-3 kinase was itself cardioprotective. In addition, chemical inhibitors of the PI-3 kinase pathway, wortmannin and LY294002 inhibit Ucn mediated cardioprotection in HR in both neonatal and adult cardiac myocytes. Hence the PI-3 kinase/Akt pathway is required in addition to MEK1/2 to mediate Ucn cardioprotection in HR. To our knowledge this is the first report of the activation of the PI-3 kinase/Akt pathway by a member of the CRF family of peptides.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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