C-Jun-NH2-Terminal Kinase Mediates Expression of Connective Tissue Growth Factor Induced by Transforming Growth Factor-β1 in Human Lung Fibroblasts

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Many of the fibrogenic effects of transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) might be mediated by connective tissue growth factor (CTGF). The present study investigates the role of mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase in the expression of CTGF mRNA in the human lung fibroblast line, HFL-1. TGF-β1 enhanced CTGF mRNA levels in a time- and concentration-dependent manner, and this enhancement was also dependent upon transcription. Inhibition of p38 MAP kinase or extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) activation did not affect TGF-β1-induced CTGF expression. On the other hand, specific inhibitors of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) suppressed TGF-β1-induced CTGF expression in a concentration-dependent manner. TGF-β1 activated c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK) and p38 MAP kinase, but not ERK in HFL-1 cells. PI3K inhibitors dose-dependently suppressed TGF-β1-induced JNK, but not p38 MAP kinase activation. Finally, JNK1 and JNK2 antisense oligonucleotides attenuated cellular levels of JNK1 and JNK2 protein, respectively, and repressed TGF-β1-induced CTGF expression. These results suggest that TGF-β1-induced CTGF mRNA expression is mediated through the JNK-dependent pathway, whereas p38 MAP kinase and ERK pathways minimally contribute.

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