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Nat Genet. 2002 Sep;32(1):201-5. Epub 2002 Aug 5.

Survival signaling mediated by c-Jun NH(2)-terminal kinase in transformed B lymphoblasts.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Program in Molecular Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, 373 Plantation Street, Worcester, Massachusetts 01605, USA.


The c-Jun NH(2)-terminal kinase (JNK) is implicated in the apoptotic response of cells exposed to stress, but the JNK signal transduction pathway may not act exclusively in apoptosis. In some studies of tumor cells, JNK has been implicated in signaling cell survival. The possibility that JNK might mediate a survival signal in tumor cells is consistent with the observation that it is activated in response to some oncogenes, such as the leukemogenic oncogene BCR-ABL, which is created by a reciprocal translocation between human chromosomes 9 and 22 (ref. 2). The BCR-ABL protein activates the JNK signaling pathway in hematopoietic cells and increases transcriptional activity mediated by the transcription factor AP1 (ref. 3). Also, inhibition of c-Jun or JNK prevents BCR-ABL-induced cell transformation in vitro. Although this implicates the JNK signaling pathway in transformation by BCR-ABL, the possible role of JNK in this process is unclear. We find that disruption of the JNK ortholog Mapk8 (also known as Jnk1) in mice causes defective transformation of pre-B cells by BCR-ABL in vitro and in vivo. The Jnk1 protein is required for the survival of the transformed cells in the absence of stromal support. Failure to survive is associated with decreased expression of Bcl2, and the effect of Jnk1 deficiency can be rescued by transgenic expression of Bcl2. Our results show that Jnk1 signals cell survival in transformed B lymphoblasts and suggest that it may contribute to the pathogenesis of some proliferative diseases.

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