The ERK, JNK/SAPK and p38/RK MAP kinase subtypes are differentially activated by physiological, pharmacological and stress stimuli; all three subtypes are implicated in immediate-early (IE) gene induction by these agents. Here, we have asked whether inhibition of a single MAP kinase subtype under these conditions would generally alter induction of several IE genes in a similar way or whether this would differentially up- and down-regulate particular IE genes, an issue which bears on the question of whether individual MAP kinases are strictly targeted to specific IE genes, or whether they might catalyse phosphorylation events that affect several IE genes in the same way. SB 203580, an inhibitor of p38/RK, has been used to analyse the role of this kinase in the induction of five IE genes (c-fos, fos-B, c-jun, junB and junD) under diverse conditions of stimulation. In C3H 10T 1/4 cells, p38/RK and its downstream kinase MAPKAP K-2 are activated by all stimuli used with the exception of TPA. The specificity of SB 203580 as a p38/RK inhibitor in these cells is demonstrated; it does not affect ERKs or JNK/SAPKs but does result in a small increase in the activity of the upstream kinase MKK6, the principal p38/RK activator in these cells. We find that inhibition of p38/RK under these conditions produces general effects on all five IE genes as a group in three ways. First, induction of all five genes in response to okadaic acid or tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) is not significantly altered by SB 203580. Second, in cells stimulated with anisomycin or U.V. radiation, SB 203580 potently inhibits all of the induced IE genes. Finally, SE 203580 enhances induction of all five IE genes in EGF-treated cells; these enhanced mRNA levels are not due to stabilisation of labile mRNA transcripts. The significance of these results to current thinking on the relationship between distinct MAP kinase subtypes and specific IE genes is discussed.
- AP kinases
- SB 203580