Hydrogen Peroxide Activates Extracellular Signal-regulated Kinase via Protein Kinase C, Raf-1, and MEK1

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We have previously demonstrated that hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) treatment of bovine tracheal myocytes increases the activity of extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK), serine/threonine kinases of the mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase superfamily thought to play a key role in the transduction of mitogenic signals to the cell nucleus. Moreover, H2O2-induced ERK activation was partially reduced by pretreatment with phorbol 12,13-dibutyrate, which depletes protein kinase C (PKC). In this study, we further examined the signaling intermediates responsible for ERK activation by H2O2 in airway smooth muscle, focusing on MAP kinase/ERK kinase (MEK), a dual-function kinase which is required and sufficient for ERK activation in bovine tracheal myocytes; Raf-1, a serine/threonine kinase known to activate MEK; and PKC. Pretreatment of cells with inhibitors of MEK (PD98059), Raf-1 (forskolin), and PKC (chelerythrine) each reduced H2O2-induced ERK activity. In addition, H2O2 treatment significantly increased both MEK1 and Raf-1 activity. No activation of MEK2 was detected. Together these data suggest that H2O2 may stimulate ERK via successive activation of PKC, Raf-1, and MEK1.

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