High expression and activation of MAP kinase-activated protein kinase 2 in cardiac muscle cells

You Li Zu, Youxi Ai, Annette Gilchrist, Nilanjana Maulik, James Watras, Ramadan I. Sha'afi, Dipak K. Das, Chi Kuang Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Recently, three mammalian mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases, ERK, SAPK/JNK, and p38/HOG-1 have been identified, each with apparently unique signal transduction pathways. The p38 MAP kinase mediates an intracellular stress-activated signaling pathway by regulating down-stream molecules, such as MAP kinase-activated protein (MAPKAP) kinase 2. To study the tissue specificity of MAPKAP kinase 2, mRNA blots containing multiple human tissues were hybridized with a specific oligonucleotide probe corresponding to human MAPKAP kinase 2. The Northern blot analysis revealed that two mRNA species of MAPKAP kinase 2, with sizes of 4.8 and 3.3 kb, were expressed in high levels in both human heart and skeletal muscle tissues. To better understand how MAPKAP kinase 2 is regulated in myocardium, cultured rat cardiac myoblast (H9c2) cells were stimulated with heat shock, H2O2-induced oxidative stress, or phorbol ester (PMA). Enzymatic activity of cellular MAPKAP kinase 2 in the cell lysates was evaluated using an in vitro kinase assay. Exposure of H9c2 cells to heat shock or oxidative stress induced a transient increase of cellular MAPKAP kinase 2 activity, which reached its peak level within 5 min. In contrast, stimulation of H9c2 cells with PMA, a potential myocardial hypertrophic factor, induced a sustained increase of cellular MAPKAP kinase 2 activity that was detectable for over 1 h. In addition, in vitro protein phosphorylation analysis with recombinant MAPKAP kinase 2 showed that small heat shock protein (hsp25) served as a major substrate molecule for the kinase in H9c2 cells and the protein phosphorylation of cellular hsp25 was stimulated by H2O2-induced oxidative stress or PMA treatment in intact H9c2 cells. Moreover, exposure of H9c2 cells to H2O2-induced oxidative stress or PMA rapidly activated cellular p38 MAP kinase as detected by the induced protein phosphorylation of the kinase. Taken together, these results strongly suggest that MAPKAP kinase 2 may be involved in stress-activated signal transduction in myocardium.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2159-2168
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1997


  • Heat shock
  • hsp25/27
  • MAPKAP kinase 2
  • Myocardium
  • Oxidative stress
  • Protein phosphorylation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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