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J Biol Chem. 2004 Apr 23;279(17):17543-53. Epub 2004 Feb 9.

Alternative, nonapoptotic programmed cell death: mediation by arrestin 2, ERK2, and Nur77.

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Buck Institute for Age Research, Novato, California 94945-1400, USA.


Programmed cell death (pcd) may take the form of apoptosis or of nonapoptotic pcd. Whereas cysteine aspartyl-specific proteases (caspases) mediate apoptosis, the mediators of nonapoptotic cell death programs are much less well characterized. Here we report that alternative, nonapoptotic pcd induced by the neurokinin-1 receptor (NK(1)R) activated by its ligand Substance P, is mediated by a MAPK phosphorylation cascade recruited by the scaffold protein arrestin 2. The activation of the protein kinases Raf-1, MEK2, and ERK2 is essential for this form of nonapoptotic pcd, leading to the phosphorylation of the orphan nuclear receptor Nur77. NK(1)R-mediated cell death was inhibited by a dominant negative form of arrestin 2, Raf-1, or Nur77, by MEK1/2-specific inhibitors, and by RNA interference directed against ERK2 or MEK2 but not ERK1 or MEK1 and against Nur77. The MAPK pathway is also activated in neurons in primary culture undergoing NK(1)R-mediated death, since the MEK inhibitor PD98059 inhibited Substance P-induced death in primary striatal neurons. These results suggest that Nur77, which is regulated by a MAPK pathway activated via arrestin 2, modulates NK(1)R-mediated nonapoptotic pcd.

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