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J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2005 May;38(5):765-75.

Peroxynitrite activates ERK via Raf-1 and MEK, independently from EGF receptor and p21Ras in H9C2 cardiomyocytes.

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Division of Critical Care, Department of Internal Medicine, University Hospital, 1011 Lausanne, Switzerland.


Peroxynitrite is a potent oxidant and nitrating species proposed as a direct effector of myocardial damage in a wide range of cardiac diseases. Whether peroxynitrite also acts indirectly, by modulating cell signal transduction pathways in the myocardium, has not been investigated. Here, we examined the ability of peroxynitrite to activate extracellular signal-related kinase (ERK), a MAP kinase which has been linked with hypertrophic and anti-apoptotic responses in the heart, in cultured H9C2 cardiomyocytes. Peroxynitrite elicited a concentration- and time-dependent activation of ERK, secondary to the upstream activation of MEK 1 (ERK kinase). Activation of MEK-ERK by peroxynitrite was related to the upstream activation of Raf-1 kinase, as ERK and MEK phosphorylation were prevented by the Raf-1 inhibitor BAY43-9006. These effects of peroxynitrite were not associated with the activation of p21(Ras), known as a common signaling target of cellular oxidative stress. In contrast to ERK activation mediated by the epidermal growth factor (EGF), ERK activation by peroxynitrite was not prevented by AG1478 (EGF receptor inhibitor). Peroxynitrite acted through oxidative, but not nitrative chemistry, as ERK remained activated while nitration was prevented by the flavanol epicatechin. In addition to ERK, peroxynitrite also potently activated two additional members of the MAP kinase family of signaling proteins, JNK and p38. Thus, peroxynitrite activates ERK in cardiomyocytes through an unusual signaling cascade involving Raf-1 and MEK 1, independently from EGFR and P21(Ras), and also acts as a potent activator of JNK and p38. These results provide the novel concept that peroxynitrite may represent a previously unrecognized signaling molecule in various cardiac pathologies.

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