Role of the Stress-activated Protein Kinases in Endothelin-induced Cardiomyocyte Hypertrophy

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The signal transduction pathways governing the hypertrophic response of cardiomyocytes are not well defined.Constitutive activation of the stress-activated protein kinase (SAPK) family of mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases or another stress-response MAP kinase, p38, by over-expression of activated mutants of various components of the pathways is sufficient to induce a hypertrophic response in cardiomyocytes, but it is not clear what role these pathways play in the response to physiologically relevant hypertrophic stimuli. To determine the role of the SAPKs in the hypertrophic response, we used adenovirus-mediated gene transfer of SAPK/ERK kinase-1 (KR) [SEK-1(KR)], a dominant inhibitory mutant of SEK-1, the immediate upstream activator of the SAPKs, to block signal transmission down the SAPK pathway in response to the potent hypertrophic agent, endothelin-1 (ET-1). SEK-1(KR) completely inhibited ET-1-induced SAPK activation without affecting activation of the other MAP kinases implicated in the hypertrophic response, p38 and extracellular signal-regulated protein kinases (ERK)-1/ERK-2. Expression of SEK-1(KR) markedly inhibited the ET-1-induced increase in protein synthesis. In contrast, the MAPK/ERK kinase inhibitor, PD98059, which blocks ERK activation, and the p38 inhibitor, SB203580, had no effect on ET-1-induced protein synthesis. ET-1 also induced a significant increase in atrial natriuretic factor mRNA expression as well as in the percentage of cells with highly organized sarcomeres, responses which were also blocked by expression of SEK-1(KR). In summary, inhibiting activation of the SAPK pathway abrogated the hypertrophic response to ET-1. These data are the first demonstration that the SAPKs are necessary for the development of agonist-induced cardiomyocyte hypertrophy, and suggest that in response to ET-1, they transduce critical signals governing the hypertrophic response. (J. Clin. Invest. 1998. 102:1311-1320.)

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