The c-Jun N-terminal kinases (JNKs) are activated strongly by inflammatory cytokines and environmental stresses, but only weakly by growth factors. Here we show that platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) strongly potentiates activation of JNK by interleukin 1 (IL-1) in human fibroblasts and a pig aortic endothelial (PAE) cell line. This synergistic activation of JNK by IL-1 and PDGF was unaffected by bacterial toxins that inactivate Rho proteins and Ras. Since Rho proteins have been implicated in JNK activation, their possible involvement was investigated further using stably expressed, inducible N17 or V12 mutants in PAE cell lines. N17 Rac non-selectively reduced JNK activity by 30% in resting or stimulated cells (IL-1 alone, or with PDGF). N17 Cdc42 had no effect. V12 Rac weakly activated JNK and synergized with IL-1, but not with PDGF. V12 Cdc42 weakly activated JNK, but synergized with PDGF and not IL-1. Our results imply that Rho GTPases are not directly involved in mediating IL-1-induced JNK activation, or in the potentiation of this activation by PDGF.

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