DiOHF (3′,4′-dihydroxyflavonol) is cardioprotective against I/R (ischaemia/reperfusion) injury. The biological activities of flavonols are associated with kinase modulation to alter cell signalling. We thus investigated the effects of DiOHF on the activation of MAPKs (mitogen-activated protein kinases) that regulate the cardiac stress response. In an ovine model of I/R, JNK (c-Jun N-terminal kinase), p38MAPK, ERK (extracellular-signal-regulated kinase) and Akt were activated, and NP202, a pro-drug of DiOHF, reduced infarct size and inhibited JNK and p38MAPK activation, whereas ERK and Akt phosphorylation were unaltered. Similarly, in cultured myoblasts, DiOHF pre-treatment preserved viability and inhibited activation of JNK and p38MAPK, but not ERK in response to acute oxidative and chemotoxic stress. Furthermore, DiOHF prevented stress-activation of the direct upstream regulators MKK4/7 (MAPK kinase 4/7) and MKK3/6 respectively. We utilized small-molecule affinity purification and identified CaMKII (Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II) as a kinase targeted by DiOHF and demonstrated potent CaMKII inhibition by DiOHF in vitro. Moreover, the specific inhibition of CaMKII with KN-93, but not KN-92, prevented oxidative stress-induced activation of JNK and p38MAPK. The present study indicates DiOHF inhibition of CaMKII and attenuation of MKK3/6→p38MAPK and MKK4/7→JNK signalling as a requirement for the protective effects of DiOHF against stress stimuli and myocardial I/R injury.

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