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Cell Death Differ. 2007 Feb;14(2):240-53. Epub 2006 Jun 23.

Role of the JNK pathway in NMDA-mediated excitotoxicity of cortical neurons.

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Département de Biologie cellulaire et de Morphologie, Université de Lausanne, CH-1005 Lausanne, and Centre des Neurosciences Psychiatriques, Hôpital Psychiatrique, CERY, Prilly, Switzerland.


Excitotoxic insults induce c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) activation, which leads to neuronal death and contributes to many neurological conditions such as cerebral ischemia and neurodegenerative disorders. The action of JNK can be inhibited by the D-retro-inverso form of JNK inhibitor peptide (D-JNKI1), which totally prevents death induced by N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) in vitro and strongly protects against different in vivo paradigms of excitotoxicity. To obtain optimal neuroprotection, it is imperative to elucidate the prosurvival action of D-JNKI1 and the death pathways that it inhibits. In cortical neuronal cultures, we first investigate the pathways by which NMDA induces JNK activation and show a rapid and selective phosphorylation of mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 7 (MKK7), whereas the only other known JNK activator, mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 4 (MKK4), was unaffected. We then analyze the action of D-JNKI1 on four JNK targets containing a JNK-binding domain: MAPK-activating death domain-containing protein/differentially expressed in normal and neoplastic cells (MADD/DENN), MKK7, MKK4 and JNK-interacting protein-1 (IB1/JIP-1).

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