p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Regulates Growth Factor-Induced Mitogenesis of Rat Pulmonary Myofibroblasts

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Myofibroblast proliferation is a central feature of pulmonary fibrogenesis. Several growth factors, including platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) and epidermal growth factor (EGF), stimulate myofibroblast growth by activating extracellular signal regulated kinases 1 and 2 (ERK1/2). In this report, we demonstrate that PDGF-BB and EGF also activate the p38 mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase. Inhibition of p38 activity with the pyridinylimidazole compound SB203580 enhanced both PDGF-BB and EGF-stimulated DNA synthesis in rat lung myofibroblasts. ERK1/2 phosphorylation in response to either PDGF-BB or EGF treatment was significantly increased by pretreatment of cells with SB203580. We also demonstrated that ERK1/2-induced phosphorylation of PHAS-1 substrate was enhanced by inhibition of p38 MAP kinase with SB203580. However, SB203580 did not significantly increase growth factor-induced activation of MEK, the upstream kinase that phosphorylates ERK1/2. p38 MAP kinase was co-immunoprecipitated with ERK-1/2 following growth factor stimulation. Collectively, these data demonstrate that p38 MAP kinase activation negatively regulates PDGF- and EGF-mediated growth responses by directly interacting with ERK1/2 and suppressing its phosphorylation.

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