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Acta Physiol Scand. 1998 Dec;164(4):611-21.

MAP kinases and vascular smooth muscle function.

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Department of Medicine, University of Rochester, NY 14642, USA.


The mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase family members are ubiquitously expressed protein kinases activated in response to a variety of extracellular stimuli and shown to be involved in cell growth, transformation, differentiation and apoptosis. MAP kinases have been implicated in both growth and apoptosis of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC) which suggests that they play important roles in cardiovascular diseases such as essential hypertension, atherosclerosis, and restenosis followed angioplasty. The MAP kinases are themselves components of specific kinase cascades characterized by activation by specific stimuli, families of related serine and threonine kinases and downstream substrates that include other kinases, transcription factors, membrane receptors and other cell mediators. Cross-talk among the different MAP kinases results in direct modulation of signal transduction. In addition, increased expression and activation of MAP kinase phosphatases plays an important role in MAP kinase inactivation. Our laboratory has used angiotensin II (AngII), a potent activator of all MAP kinases in VSMC, to study mechanisms by which MAP kinases are regulated by vasoactive peptides. In this review, we describe the mechanisms by which AngII activates MAP kinases, and potential roles for MAP kinases in AngII-dependent effects on VSMC function.

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