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Cancer Lett. 1996 Oct 1;107(1):73-81.

Adriamycin activates c-jun N-terminal kinase in human leukemia cells: a relevance to apoptosis.

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Department of Pharmaceutics and Pharmacodynamics, College of Pharmacy, University of Illinois at Chicago 60607, USA.


We studied the activation of c-jun N-terminal kinase 1 (JNK 1) and extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1 and 2 (ERK 1/2) of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) family by adriamycin (ADR) in the human T cell leukemia line, H9. ADR caused an elevation of JNK1 activity at sublethal or lethal concentrations; however, at lower doses, ADR did not activate JNK1. The induction of JNK1 peaked at 4 h of treatment (about ten-fold over the control), and was sustained up to 5 h post-treatment. This induction preceded the onset of apoptosis, as determined by morphological features and internucleosomal degradation of DNA. Upon treatment of cells with JNK1-inducing doses, ADR caused an elevation of steady-state levels of c-jun and ATF3 mRNAs, as measured by RT-PCR. In contrast, the activity of ERK 1/2 remained unchanged throughout the treatments, indicating that members of MAPK family are differentially regulated in ADR-treated cells. A possible role of JNK1 activation in ADR-induced apoptosis is discussed.

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