p38γ MAPK cooperates with c-Jun in trans-activating matrix metalloproteinase 9

Mathew Loesch, Hui Ying Zhi, Song Wang Hou, Xiao Mei Qi, Rong Shan Li, Zainab Basir, Thomas Iftner, Ana Cuenda, Guan Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) regulate gene expression through transcription factors. However, the precise mechanisms in this critical signal event are largely unknown. Here, we show that the transcription factor c-Jun is activated by p38γ MAPK, and the activated c-Jun then recruits p38γ as a cofactor into the matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP9) promoter to induce its trans-activation and cell invasion. This signaling event was initiated by hyperexpressed p38γ that led to increased c-Jun synthesis, MMP9 transcription, and MMP9-dependent invasion through p38γ interacting with c-Jun. p38γ requires phosphorylation and its C terminus to bind c-Jun, whereas both c-Jun and p38γ are required for the trans-activation of MMP9. The active p38γ/c-Jun/MMP9 pathway also exists in human colon cancer, and there is a coupling of increased p38γ and MMP9 expression in the primary tissues. These results reveal a new paradigm in which a MAPK acts both as an activator and a cofactor of a transcription factor to regulate gene expression leading to an invasive response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15149-15158
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number20
StatePublished - May 14 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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