1. Elevation of intracellular cyclic AMP (cAMP) is a potent mitogenic signal for a number of cell types, including Swiss 3T3 cells, thyroid epithelial cells and the somatotroph cells of the anterior pituitary.
2. Activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascade has been shown to underlie the mitogenic effects of many growth factors. However, the precise relationship between the mitogenic effects of cAMP and the MAPK cascade is not fully defined.
3. In Swiss 3T3 cells, elevation of cAMP did not stimulate kinases at all three levels of the MAPK cascade. Additionally, blockade of the MAPK pathway failed to inhibit cAMP-stimulated DNA synthesis.
4. Mitogenic combinations of cAMP strongly stimulated the phosphorylation and activation of the serine/threonine kinase p70 S6 kinase, p70S6K, an effect that was inhibited by rapamycin. This agent markedly inhibited cAMP-stimulated DNA synthesis, suggesting a critical role for p70S6K in cAMP mitogenic signalling.
5. Thus, multiple parallel but distinct signalling pathways may be involved in the action of mitogens. This redundancy has important implications for the pathogenesis and treatment of conditions characterized by inappropriate activation of growth factor signalling pathways.