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Genetic inhibition of cardiac ERK1/2 promotes stress-induced apoptosis and heart failure but has no effect on hypertrophy in vivo.

Purcell NH, Wilkins BJ, York A, Saba-El-Leil MK, Meloche S, Robbins J, Molkentin JD

Department of Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, University of Cincinnati, 3333 Burnet Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45229, USA.

MAPK signaling pathways function as critical regulators of cellular differentiation, proliferation, stress responsiveness, and apoptosis. One branch of the MAPK signaling pathway that culminates in ERK1/2 activation is hypothesized to regulate the growth and adaptation of the heart to both physiologic and pathologic stimuli, given its known activation in response to virtually every stress- and agonist-induced hypertrophic stimulus examined to date. Here we investigated the requirement of ERK1/2 signaling in mediating the cardiac hypertrophic growth response in Erk1(-/-) and Erk2(+/-) mice, as well as in transgenic mice with inducible expression of an ERK1/2-inactivating phosphatase in the heart, dual-specificity phosphatase 6. Although inducible expression of dual-specificity phosphatase 6 in the heart eliminated ERK1/2 phosphorylation at baseline and after stimulation without affecting any other MAPK, it did not diminish the hypertrophic response to pressure overload stimulation, neuroendocrine agonist infusion, or exercise. Similarly, Erk1(-/-) and Erk2(+/-) mice showed no reduction in pathologic or physiologic stimulus-induced cardiac growth in vivo. However, blockade or deletion of cardiac ERK1/2 did predispose the heart to decompensation and failure after long-term pressure overload in conjunction with an increase in myocyte TUNEL. Thus, ERK1/2 signaling is not required for mediating physiologic or pathologic cardiac hypertrophy in vivo, although it does play a protective role in response to pathologic stimuli.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2007;104(35):14074-9.

Pubmed ID: 17709754

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