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FASEB J. 2004 Apr;18(6):720-2. Epub 2004 Feb 6.

Differential requirement for c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase in TNFalpha- and Fas-mediated apoptosis in hepatocytes.

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Department of Medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.


The c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK) is involved in the regulation of cell death, but its role in tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha- and Fas-mediated apoptosis in primary cells is not well defined. In primary rat hepatocytes expressing an IkappaB superrepressor, the JNK inhibitor SP600125 strongly decreased TNF-alpha-induced cell death, caspase 3 activation, and DNA laddering. In contrast, SP600125 did not rescue mouse hepatocytes from Fas-induced apoptosis. Apoptosis in mouse hepatocytes, induced by human TNF-alpha, was blocked by SP600125, indicating that TNF-receptor (TNF-R) 1-mediated JNK activation is important for TNF-alpha-induced death. However, mouse TNF-alpha was more efficient than human TNF-alpha in activating JNK and killing mouse hepatocytes, suggesting that TNF-R1 and TNF-R2 cooperate in JNK activation and apoptosis. SP600125 rescued actinomycin D-pretreated hepatocytes and hepatocytes expressing a dominant negative c-Jun from TNF-alpha, indicating that JNK exerts its proapoptotic effect independently of transcription and c-Jun. SP600125 delayed the mitochondrial permeability transition, inhibited cytochrome c release and prevented bid degradation after TNF-alpha, suggesting that JNK-regulated proapoptotic factors act upstream of the mitochondria. Moreover, overexpression of JNK1 activated a mitochondrial death pathway in hepatocytes, albeit less efficiently than TNF-alpha. This study demonstrates that JNK augments TNF-alpha-induced apoptosis in hepatocytes through a signaling pathway that is distinct from the pathway by which it regulates proliferation.

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