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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1998 Oct 29;251(3):669-76.

ERK2 activation by homocysteine in vascular smooth muscle cells.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Nebraska, 68198-6260, USA.


Homocysteine at abnormally high levels is an independent risk factor for atherosclerosis and may be a key factor in atherogenesis. Since homocysteine (Hcys) has been shown to promote cell proliferation and induction of the gene transcription factor c-fos in vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs), effects which can be mediated by MAP kinase, we hypothesized that homocysteine activates a MAP kinase-dependent signal transduction pathway. In this study, we find that homocysteine transiently activates MAP kinase (ERK2 isoform) in cultured VSMCs from chick embryos. Homocysteine activation of ERK2 is dose-dependent with an EC50 of approximately 500 nM and blocked by the MAP/Erk kinase (MEK) inhibitor PD98059. VSMC embryonic lineage is another determinant of homocysteine sensitivity. These findings demonstrate that homocysteine activates the MAP kinase signal transduction pathway and thus support the hypothesis that homocysteine may promote atherosclerosis by stimulation of growth promoting signal transduction pathways.

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