Conditional expression of mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphatase-1, MKP-1, is cytoprotective against UV-induced apoptosis

Christopher C. Franklin, Sampathkumar Srikanth, Andrew S. Kraft

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155 Scopus citations


UV irradiation induces apoptosis in U937 human leukemic cells that is accompanied by the activation of both the stress-activated protein kinase (SAPK) and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signal transduction pathways. The MAPK phosphatase, MKP-1, is capable of inactivating both SAPK and p38 MAPK in vivo. To determine whether MPK-1-mediated inhibition of SAPK and/or p38 MAPK activity provided cytoprotection against UV-induced apoptosis, a U937 cell line conditionally expressing MKP-1 from the human metallothionein IIa promoter was established. Conditional expression of MKP-1 was found to abolish UV-induced SAPK and p38 MAPK activity, and inhibit UV-induced apoptosis as judged by both morphological criteria and DNA fragmentation. MKP-1 was also found to inhibit other biochemical events associated with apoptosis, including activation of caspase-3 and the proteolytic cleavage of the caspase-3 substrate, poly(ADP ribose) polymerase. These findings demonstrate that MKP-1 acts at a site upstream of caspase activation within the apoptotic program. The cytoprotective properties of MKP-1 do not appear to be mediated by its ability to inhibit p38 MAPK because the p38 MAPK specific inhibitor SB203580 had no effect on UV-induced apoptosis in U937 cells. Furthermore, by titrating the level of MKP-1 expression it was found that MKP-1 inhibited UV-induced SAPK activity, DNA fragmentation, and caspase-3 activation in a similar dose-dependent manner. The dual-specificity phosphatase, PAC1, which does not inhibit UV-induced activation of SAPK, did not provide a similar cytoprotection against UV-induced apoptosis. These results are consistent with a model whereby MKP-1 provides cytoprotection against UV-induced apoptosis by inhibiting UV-induced SAPK activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3014-3019
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 17 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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