Recent studies have provided evidence that Zn2+ plays a crucial role in ischemia- and seizure-induced neuronal death. However, the intracellular signaling pathways involved in Zn2+-induced cell death are largely unknown. In the present study, we investigated the roles of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs), such as c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), p38 MAPK and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), and of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in Zn2+-induced cell death using differentiated PC12 cells. Intracellular accumulation of Zn2+ induced by the combined application of pyrithione (5 μM), a Zn2+ ionophore, and Zn2+ (10 μM) caused cell death and activated JNK and ERK, but not p38 MAPK. Preventing JNK activation by the expression of dominant negative SEK1 (SEKAL) did not attenuate Zn2+-induced cell death, whereas the inhibition of ERK with PD98059 and the expression of dominant negative Ras mutant (RasN17) significantly prevented cell death. Inhibition of protein kinase C (PKC) and phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase had little effect on Zn2+-induced ERK activation. Intracellular Zn2+ accumulation resulted in the generation of ROS, and antioxidants prevented both the ERK activation and the cell death induced by Zn2+. Therefore, we conclude that although Zn2+ activates JNK and ERK, only ERK contributes to Zn2+-induced cell death, and that ERK activation is mediated by ROS via the Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK signaling pathway.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience