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We tested the hypothesis that protein kinase (PK)G activation in response to nitric oxide (•NO) mediates tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α-induced activation of the transcription factor activating protein-1 (AP-1) in pulmonary microvessel endothelial monolayers (PEM). The DNA-binding activity of AP-1 was assessed using the electrophoretic mobility shift assay. TNF treatment (1,000 U/ml) for 4 h induced a significant increase in DNA binding of AP-1. The effects of TNF were prevented by the superoxide radical scavenger superoxide dismutase (SOD) (100 U/ml), the •NO synthase inhibitor aminoguanidine (100 μM), the guanylate cyclase inhibitor ODQ (100 μM), and the PKG inhibitors KT5823 (1 μM) and 8-bromo-cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP)-thioate (100 μM). Spermine-NO (1 μM) and l-arginine (400 μM) prevented the aminoguanidine-induced ablation of AP-1 activation in response to TNF. Phosphorylation of H-Arg-Lys-Ile-Ser-Ala-Ser-Glu-Phe-Asp-Arg-Pro-Leu-Arg-OH (BPDEtide), a specific substrate for PKG, measured the activity of cGMP-dependent protein kinase (PKG). TNF for 0.5 h induced an increase in PKG activity that was prevented by aminoguanidine, ODQ, KT5823, and 8-bromo-cGMP-thioate; however, SOD had no effect. The PKG agonist 8-bromo-cGMP (100 μM), when given alone, increased PKG activity but induced significant DNA-binding activity of AP-1 only when given in the ODQ + TNF Group. SIN-1 (1 mM, a peroxynitrite agonist) increased DNA-binding activity of AP-1. SOD prevented SIN-1-induced AP-1 activation, a response similar to that of the SOD + TNF Group. PEM were transfected with the chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT) reporter plasmid pBLCAT2, which contains a regulation sequence responsive to AP-1. The pharmacologic profile of TNF-induced CAT activity was identical to TNF-induced DNA binding by AP-1. Thus, TNF-induced AP-1-dependent gene transcription is modulated by •NO-dependent mediated activation of PKG.