Induction of terminal differentiation by constitutive activation of p38 MAP kinase in human rhabdomyosarcoma cells

Pier Lorenzo Puri, Zhenguo Wu, Peilin Zhang, Lauren D. Wood, Kunjan S. Bhakta, Jiahuai Han, James R. Feramisco, Michael Karin, Jean Y J Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

MyoD inhibits cell proliferation and promotes muscle differentiation. A paradoxical feature of rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS), a tumor arising from muscle precursors, is the block of the differentiation program and the deregulated proliferation despite MyoD expression. A deficiency in RMS of a factor required for MyoD activity has been implicated by previous studies. We report here that p38 MAP kinase (MAPK) activation, which is essential for muscle differentiation, is deficient in RMS cells. Enforced induction of p38 MAPK by an activated MAPK kinase 6 (MKK6EE) restored MyoD function and enhanced MEF2 activity in RMS deficient for p38 MAPK activation, leading to growth arrest and terminal differentiation. Stress and cytokines could activate the p38 MAPK in RMS cells, however, these stimuli did not promote differentiation, possibly because they activated p38 MAPK only transiently and they also activated JNK, which could antagonize differentiation. Thus, the selective and sustained p38 MAPK activation, which is distinct from the stress- activated response, is required for differentiation and can be disrupted in human tumors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)574-584
Number of pages11
JournalGenes and Development
Volume14
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2000

Keywords

  • Differentiation
  • Muscle regulatory factors
  • p38 MAPK, MKK6
  • RMS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology

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