Mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway regulates heme oxygenase-1 gene expression by hypoxia in vascular cells

Stefan W. Ryter, Sichuan Xi, Cynthia L. Hartsfield, Augustine M.K. Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Hypoxia induces the stress protein heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), which participates in cellular adaptation. The molecular pathways that regulate ho-1 gene expression under hypoxia may involve mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling and reactive oxygen. Hypoxia (8 h) increased HO-1 mRNA in rat pulmonary aortic endothelial cells (PAEC), and also activated both extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1 (ERK1)/ERK2 and p38 MAPK pathways. The role of these kinases in hypoxia-induced ho-1 gene expression was examined using chemical inhibitors of these pathways. Surprisingly, SB203580, an inhibitor of p38 MAPK, and PD98059, an inhibitor of mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK1), strongly enhanced hypoxia-induced HO-1 mRNA expression in PAEC. UO126, a MEK1/2 inhibitor, enhanced HO-1 expression in PAEC under normoxia, but not hypoxia. Diphenylene iodonium, an inhibitor of NADPH oxidase, also induced the expression of HO-1 in PAEC under both normoxia and hypoxia. Similar results were observed in aortic vascular smooth muscle cells. Furthermore, hypoxia induced activator protein (AP-1) DNA-binding activity in PAEC. Pretreatment with SB203580 and PD98059 enhanced AP-1 binding activity under hypoxia in PAEC; UO126 stimulated AP-1 binding under normoxia, whereas diphenylene iodonium stimulated AP-1 binding under normoxia and hypoxia. These results suggest a relationship between MAPK and hypoxic regulation of ho-1 in vascular cells, involving AP-1.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)587-592
Number of pages6
JournalAntioxidants and Redox Signaling
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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