Ischemic preconditioning involves dual cardio-protective axes with p38MAPK as upstream target

Norbert Nagy, Keisuke Shiroto, Gautam Malik, Chi Kuang Huang, Mathias Gaestel, Maha Abdellatif, Arpad Tosaki, Nilanjana Maulik, Dipak K. Das

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


The existing literature indicates a crucial role of p38 MAP (mitogen-activated protein) kinase (p38MAPK) and its downstream target MAPKAP kinase 2 (MK2) in ischemic preconditioning (IPC). Accordingly, deletion of MK2 gene should abolish the cardioprotective ability of IPC. Interestingly, we were able to partially precondition the hearts from MK2-/- knockout mice suggesting the existence of an as yet unknown alternative downstream target of p38MAPK. A recent study from our laboratory also determined a crucial role of CREB (cyclic AMP response element binding protein) in IPC. Since CREB is a downstream target of MSK-1 (mitogen- and stress-activated protein kinase-1) situated at the crossroad of ERK (extracellular receptor kinase) and p38MAPK signaling pathways, we reasoned that MSK-1 could be a downstream molecular target for p38MAPK and ERK signaling in the IPC hearts. To test this hypothesis, the rat hearts were subjected to IPC by four cyclic episodes of 5 min ischemia and 10 min reperfusion. As expected, IPC induced the activation of ERK1/2, p38MAPK, MK2 and HSP (heat shock protein) 27 as evidenced by their increased phosphorylation; and the inhibition of p38MAPK with SB203580 almost completely, and the inhibition of ERK1/2 with PD098059 partially, abolished cardioprotective effects of IPC. Inhibition of MSK-1 with short hairpin RNA (shRNA) also abolished the IPC-induced cardioprotection. SB203580 partially blocked the effects of MSK-1 suggesting that MSK-1 sits downstream of p38MAPK. shRNA-MSK-1 blocked the contribution of both p38MAPK and ERK1/2 as it is uniquely situated at the downstream crossroad of both of these MAP kinases. Although MSK-1 sits downstream of both ERK1/2 and p38MAPK, ERK1/2 activation appears to play less significant role compared to p38MAPK, since its inhibition blocked MSK activation only partially. Consistent with these results, shRNA-MSK-1 blocked the partial PC in MK2-/- hearts, and in combination with SB203580, completely abolished the PC effects in the wild-type hearts. The IPC-induced survival signaling was almost completely inhibited with SB203580, and only partially with PD 098059 as evidenced from the inhibition patterns of IPC induced activation of CREB, Akt and Bcl-2. Again SB203580 alone or in combination with shRNA-MSK-1 inhibited IPC induced survival signal comparatively, suggesting that MSK-1 exists downstream of p38MAPK. Taken together, these results indicate for the first time MSK-1 as an alternative (other than MK2) downstream target for p38MAPK, which also transmits survival signal through the activation of CREB.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)981-990
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


  • CREB
  • Ischemia/reperfusion
  • MAPKAP kinase 2
  • MSK-1
  • p38MAP kinase


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