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J Biol Chem. 2006 Jun 2;281(22):15258-67. Epub 2006 Mar 29.

Tumor necrosis factor-induced toxic liver injury results from JNK2-dependent activation of caspase-8 and the mitochondrial death pathway.

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Department of Medicine and Marion Bessin Liver Research Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York 10461, USA.


In vitro studies of hepatocytes have implicated over-activation of c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) signaling as a mechanism of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF)-induced apoptosis. However, the functional significance of JNK activation and the role of specific JNK isoforms in TNF-induced hepatic apoptosis in vivo remain unclear. JNK1 and JNK2 function was, therefore, investigated in the TNF-dependent, galactosamine/lipopolysaccharide (GalN/LPS) model of liver injury. The toxin GalN converted LPS-induced JNK signaling from a transient to prolonged activation. Liver injury and mortality from GalN/LPS was equivalent in wild-type and jnk1-/- mice but markedly decreased in jnk2-/- mice. This effect was not secondary to down-regulation of TNF receptor 1 expression or TNF production. In the absence of jnk2, the caspase-dependent, TNF death pathway was blocked, as reflected by the failure of caspase-3 and -7 and poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase cleavage to occur. JNK2 was critical for activation of the mitochondrial death pathway, as in jnk2-/- mice Bid cleavage and mitochondrial translocation and cytochrome c release were markedly decreased. This effect was secondary to the failure of jnk2-/- mice to activate caspase-8. Liver injury and caspase activation were similarly decreased in jnk2 null mice after GalN/TNF treatment. Ablation of jnk2 did not inhibit GalN/LPS-induced c-Jun kinase activity, although activity was completely blocked in jnk1-/- mice. Toxic liver injury is, therefore, associated with JNK over-activation and mediated by JNK2 promotion of caspase-8 activation and the TNF mitochondrial death pathway through a mechanism independent of c-Jun kinase activity.

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