Molecular and cellular biology

UV irradiation induces the murine urokinase-type plasminogen activator gene via the c-Jun N-terminal kinase signaling pathway: requirement of an AP1 enhancer element.

PMID 9671463


UV irradiation leads to severe damage, such as cutaneous inflammation, immunosuppression, and cancer, but it also results in a gene induction protective response termed the UV response. The signal triggering the UV response was thought to originate from DNA damage; recent findings, however, have shown that it is initiated at or near the cell membrane and transmitted via cytoplasmic kinase cascades to induce gene transcription. Urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) was the first protein shown to be UV inducible in xeroderma pigmentosum DNA repair-deficient human cells. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms responsible for the induction were not elucidated. We have found that the endogenous murine uPA gene product is transcriptionally upregulated by UV in NIH 3T3 fibroblast and F9 teratocarcinoma cells. This induction required an activator protein 1 (AP1) enhancer element located at -2.4 kb, since deletion of this site abrogated the induction. We analyzed the contribution of the three different types of UV-inducible mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases (ERK, JNK/SAPK, and p38) to the activation of the murine uPA promoter by UV. MEKK1, a specific JNK activator, induced transcription from the uPA promoter in the absence of UV treatment, whereas coexpression of catalytically inactive MEKK1(K432M) and of cytoplasmic JNK inhibitor JIP-1 inhibited UV-induced uPA transcriptional activity. In contrast, neither dominant negative MKK6 (or SB203580) nor PD98059, which specifically inhibit p38 and ERK MAP kinase pathways, respectively, could abrogate the UV-induced effect. Moreover, our results indicated that wild-type N-terminal c-Jun, but not mutated c-Jun (Ala-63/73), was able to mediate UV-induced uPA transcriptional activity. Taken together, we show for the first time that kinases of the JNK family can activate the uPA promoter. This activation links external UV stimulation and AP1-dependent uPA transcription, providing a transcription-coupled signal transduction pathway for the induction of the murine uPA gene by UV.

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