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J Biol Chem. 1997 Oct 31;272(44):27665-70.

Conditional inhibition of the mitogen-activated protein kinase cascade by wortmannin. Dependence on signal strength.

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Department of Medicine, Division of Signal Transduction, Beth Israel Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Phosphoinositide (PI) 3-kinase and the mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase cascades are activated by many of the same ligands. Several groups have reported involvement of PI 3-kinase in the activation of Erk1 and Erk2, whereas many other groups have shown that activation of Erk1 and Erk2 is not sensitive to inhibitors of PI 3-kinase such as wortmannin. Here we show that wortmannin inhibition of the MAP kinase pathway is cell type- and ligand-specific. Wortmannin blocks platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-dependent activation of Raf-1 and the MAP kinase cascade in Chinese hamster ovary cells, which have few PDGF receptors, but has no significant effect on Erk activation in Swiss 3T3 cells, which have high levels of PDGF receptors. However, wortmannin blocks activation of Erk proteins if Swiss 3T3 cells are stimulated with lower, physiological levels of PDGF. These results suggest that PI 3-kinase is in an efficient pathway for activation of MAP kinase, but that MAP kinase can be stimulated by a redundant pathway when a large number of receptors are activated. We present evidence that a protein kinase C family member downstream of phospholipase Cgamma is involved in the redundant pathway.

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