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Cell. 1995 Jun 30;81(7):1137-46.

The small GTP-binding proteins Rac1 and Cdc42 regulate the activity of the JNK/SAPK signaling pathway.

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Molecular Signaling Unit, National Institute of Dental Research, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


c-Jun amino-terminal kinases (JNKs) and mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) are closely related; however, they are independently regulated by a variety of environmental stimuli. Although molecules linking growth factor receptors to MAPKs have been recently identified, little is known about pathways controlling JNK activation. Here, we show that in COS-7 cells, activated Ras effectively stimulates MAPK but poorly induces JNK activity. In contrast, mutationally activated Rac1 and Cdc42 GTPases potently activate JNK without affecting MAPK, and oncogenic guanine nucleotide exchange factors for these Rho-like proteins selectively stimulate JNK activity. Furthermore, expression of inhibitory molecules for Rho-related GTPases and dominant negative mutants of Rac1 and Cdc42 block JNK activation by oncogenic exchange factors or after induction by inflammatory cytokines and growth factors. Taken together, these findings strongly support a critical role for Rac1 and Cdc42 in controlling the JNK signaling pathway.

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