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Cancer Lett. 2008 Feb 18;260(1-2):88-95. Epub 2007 Nov 28.

Ceramide induces p38 MAPK-dependent apoptosis and Bax translocation via inhibition of Akt in HL-60 cells.

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Division of Biochemistry, College of Pharmacy, Chung-Ang University, Seoul 156-756, Republic of Korea.


Ceramide induces apoptosis through caspase activation, cytochrome c release, and Bax translocation in HL-60 cells. However, the upstream signal transduction pathways that induce Bax translocation during ceramide-mediated apoptosis have not been well defined yet. In this study, the activation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) was found to be critical for the induction of apoptosis and subcellular redistribution of Bax. Pharmacological inhibition of p38 MAPK with SB203580 or expression of a dominant-negative p38 MAPK attenuated DNA fragmentation, caspase-3 activation, and Bax translocation in response to ceramide. Overexpression of Akt also led to suppression of Bax translocation to mitochondria during ceramide-induced apoptosis in HL-60 cells. We also provide evidence for cross-talk between p38 MAPK and Akt pathways. Expression of myr-Akt or inhibition of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) with LY294002 had no effect on p38 MAPK activation by ceramide as assessed by phosphorylation, while inhibition of p38 MAPK by a pharmacological inhibitor or a dominant-negative p38 inhibited Akt dephosphorylation in response to ceramide, suggesting that ceramide-induced p38 MAPK activation negatively regulates the Akt pathway.

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