Adrenocorticotropin induction of stress-activated protein kinase in the adrenal cortex in vivo

Genichi Watanabe, Pilar Pena, Chris Albanese, Lisa D. Wilsbacher, James B. Young, Richard G. Pestell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


A broad array of stressors induce ACTH release from the anterior pituitary, with consequent stimulation of the adrenal cortex and release of glucocorticoids critical for survival of the animal. ACTH stimulates adrenocortical gene expression in vivo and inhibits adrenocortical cell proliferation. Binding of ACTH to its G-protein-coupled receptor stimulates the production of cAMP and activation of the protein kinase A pathway. The stress-activated protein kinases (SAPKs) (or c-Jun N-terminal kinases) and the extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERKs) are members of the mitogen- activated protein kinase family of serine/threonine kinases, which have recently been implicated in G-protein-coupled receptor intracellular signaling. The SAPKs are preferentially induced by osmotic stress and UV light, whereas the ERKs are preferentially induced by growth factors and proliferative signals in cultured cells. In these studies, ACTH stimulated SAPK activity 3-4-fold both in the adrenal cortex in vivo and in the Y1 adrenocortical cell line. 12-O-Tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate but not cAMP induced SAPK activity in Y1 cells. The isoquinolinesulfonamide inhibitors H- 8 and H-89 blocked ACTH induction of SAPK activity at protein kinase C inhibitory doses but not at protein kinase A inhibitory doses. The calcium chelating agent EGTA inhibited ACTH-induced SAPK activity and the calcium ionophore A23187 induced SAPK activity 3-fold. In contrast with the induction of SAPK by ACTH, ERK activity was inhibited in the adrenal cortex in vivo and in Y1 adrenal cells. Together these findings suggest that ACTH induces SAPK activity through a PKC and Ca+2-dependent pathway. The induction of SAPK and inhibition of ERK by ACTH in vivo may preferentially regulate target genes involved in the adrenocortical stress responses in the whole animal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20063-20069
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number32
StatePublished - Aug 8 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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