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Circ Res. 2003 Aug 8;93(3):254-61. Epub 2003 Jun 26.

Diverse mechanisms of myocardial p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase activation: evidence for MKK-independent activation by a TAB1-associated mechanism contributing to injury during myocardial ischemia.

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  • 1Department of Cardiology, Guy's, King's and St Thomas' School of Medicine, King's College London, The Rayne Institute, St Thomas' Hospital, London, UK.


The ischemic activation of p38alpha mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38alpha-MAPK) is thought to contribute to myocardial injury. Under other circumstances, activation is through dual phosphorylation by MAPK kinase 3 (MKK3). Therefore, the mkk3-/- murine heart should be protected during ischemia. In retrogradely perfused mkk3-/- and mkk3+/+ mouse hearts subjected to 30 minutes of global ischemia and 120 minutes of reperfusion, infarction/risk volume was similar (50+/-5 versus 51+/-4, P=0.93, respectively), as was intraischemic p38-MAPK phosphorylation (10 minutes ischemia as percent basal, 608+/-224 versus 384+/-104, P=0.43, respectively). This occurred despite undetectable activation of MKK3/6 in mkk3-/- hearts. However, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-induced p38-MAPK phosphorylation was markedly diminished in mkk3-/- vs mkk3+/+ hearts (percent basal, 127+/-23 versus 540+/-267, respectively, P=0.04), suggesting an MKK-independent activation mechanism by ischemia. Hence, we examined p38-MAPK activation by TAB1-associated autophosphorylation. In wild-type mice and mkk3-/- mice, the p38-MAPK catalytic site inhibitor SB203580 (1 micromol/L) diminished phosphorylation during ischemia versus control (10 minutes ischemia as percent basal, 143+/-2 versus 436+/-96, P=0.003, and 122+/-25 versus 623+/-176, P=0.05, respectively) and reduced infarction volume (infarction/risk volume, 57+/-5 versus 36+/-3, P<0.001, and 50+/-5 versus 29+/-3, P=0.003, respectively) but did not alter TNF-induced activation, although in homogenates of ischemic hearts but not TNF-exposed hearts, p38-MAPK was associated with TAB1. Furthermore, adenovirally expressed wild-type and drug-resistant p38alpha-MAPK, lacking the SB203580 binding site, was phosphorylated when H9c2 myoblasts were subjected to simulated ischemia. However, SB203580 (1 micromol/L) did not prevent the phosphorylation of resistant p38alpha-MAPK. These findings suggest the ischemic activation of p38-MAPK contributing to myocardial injury is by TAB1-associated autophosphorylation.

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