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MKK6-p38 MAPK signaling pathway enhances survival but not bone-resorbing activity of osteoclasts.

Phosphorylated p38 mitogen-activating kinase (MAPK) is observed in osteoclasts under in vivo inflammatory situations. However, the role of p38 MAPK in osteoclast function has not been elucidated, because all external stimuli tested hitherto failed to induce the phosphorylation of p38 MAPK in osteoclasts in culture. In this study, a constitutively active form of MKK6 (MKK6CA) was expressed in osteoclasts using adenoviral gene transfer in vitro. MKK6CA expressed in osteoclasts phosphorylated p38 MAPK and enhanced the survival of osteoclasts. Dentine-resorbing activity of osteoclasts was not enhanced by the MKK6CA expression. These results suggest that p38 MAPK signaling plays a critical role in the survival of osteoclasts in inflammatory diseases.

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Distinct roles of Smad pathways and p38 pathways in cartilage-specific gene expression in synovial fibroblasts.

The role of TGF-beta/bone morphogenetic protein signaling in the chondrogenic differentiation of human synovial fibroblasts (SFs) was examined with the adenovirus vector-mediated gene transduction system. Expression of constitutively active activin receptor-like kinase 3 (ALK3CA) induced chondrocyte-specific gene expression in SFs cultured in pellets or in SF pellets transplanted into nude mice, in which both the Smad and p38 pathways are essential. To analyze downstream cascades of ALK3 signaling, we utilized adenovirus vectors carrying either Smad1 to stimulate Smad pathways or constitutively active MKK6 (MKK6CA) to activate p38 pathways. Smad1 expression had a synergistic effect on ALK3CA, while activation of p38 MAP kinase pathways alone by transduction of MKK6CA accelerated terminal chondrocytic differentiation, leading to type X collagen expression and enhanced mineralization. Overexpression of Smad1 prevented MKK6CA-induced type X collagen expression and maintained type II collagen expression. In a mouse model of osteoarthritis, activated p38 expression as well as type X collagen staining was detected in osteochondrophytes and marginal synovial cells. These results suggest that SFs can be differentiated into chondrocytes via ALK3 activation and that stimulating Smad pathways and controlling p38 activation at the proper level can be a good therapeutic strategy for maintaining the healthy joint homeostasis and treating degenerative joint disorders.

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p38gamma MAPK regulation of glucose transporter expression and glucose uptake in L6 myotubes and mouse skeletal muscle.

Skeletal muscle expresses at least three p38 MAPKs (alpha, beta, gamma). However, no studies have examined the potential regulation of glucose uptake by p38gamma, the isoform predominantly expressed in skeletal muscle and highly regulated by exercise. L6 myotubes were transfected with empty vector (pCAGGS), activating MKK6 (MKK6CA), or p38gamma-specific siRNA. MKK6CA-transfected cells had higher rates of basal 2-deoxy-d-[3H]glucose (2-DG) uptake (P < 0.05) but lower rates of 2,4-dinitrophenol (DNP)-stimulated glucose uptake, an uncoupler of oxidative phosphorylation that operates through an insulin-independent mechanism (P < 0.05). These effects were reversed when MKK6CA cells were cotransfected with p38gamma-specific siRNA. To determine whether the p38gamma isoform is involved in the regulation of contraction-stimulated glucose uptake in adult skeletal muscle, the tibialis anterior muscles of mice were injected with pCAGGS or wild-type p38gamma (p38gammaWT) followed by intramuscular electroporation. Basal and contraction-stimulated 2-DG uptake in vivo was determined 14 days later. Overexpression of p38gammaWT resulted in higher basal rates of glucose uptake compared with pCAGGS (P < 0.05). Muscles overexpressing p38gammaWT showed a trend for lower in situ contraction-mediated glucose uptake (P = 0.08) and significantly lower total GLUT4 levels (P < 0.05). These data suggest that p38gamma increases basal glucose uptake and decreases DNP- and contraction-stimulated glucose uptake, partially by affecting levels of glucose transporter expression in skeletal muscle. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that activation of stress kinases such as p38 are negative regulators of stimulated glucose uptake in peripheral tissues.

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