Prostaglandin endoperoxide synthase (PGHS) catalyses the rate-limiting step in the formation of prostaglandin and thromboxane eicosanoids from arachidonic acid released by phospholipase A2. Two forms of PGHS exist, PGHS-1 and PGHS-2. PGHS-2, normally absent from cells, is rapidly expressed in response to a wide variety of stimuli and has been implicated in the pathogenesis of colon cancer and several inflammatory diseases. The three principal mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways are the extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase (ERK), the c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) cascade and the p38-MAPK cascade. The present study was undertaken to investigate the putative involvement of the MAPK cascades in PGHS-2 induction. The potential role of ERK in PGHS-2 up-regulation was assessed by using cell lines expressing, both stably and after adenoviral infection, constitutively active forms of its upstream activator MAPK/ERK kinase (MEK1). The possible involvement of JNK and p38-MAPK in positively modulating PGHS-2 transcription was investigated by using adenovirus-mediated transfer of active forms of their respective specific upstream kinases, mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MKK) 7 and MKK3/MKK6. ERK activation promoted the induction of PGHS-2 mRNA and protein. Similarly, activation of JNK by Ad-MKK7D and p38-MAPK by Ad-MKK3bE/Ad-MKK6bE resulted in the increased expression of PGHS-2. These results provide evidence that activation of all three of the major mammalian MAPK leads to the induction of PGHS-2 mRNA and protein. Because PGHS-2 is up-regulated by a diverse range of stimuli, both mitogenic and stress-evoking, these results provide evidence that the convergence point of these stimuli could be the activation of one or more MAPK cascade(s).

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