Nitric oxide is a signaling molecule that has a broad range of physiological functions, including neurotransmission, macrophage activation, and vasodilation. The mechanism by which nitric oxide regulates signal transduction mediating diverse biological activities is not fully understood, however. Here, we demonstrate that nitric oxide induced the stimulation of c- Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK)/stress-activated protein kinase (SAPK) in intact cells. Exposure of cultured HEK293 cells to sodium nitroprusside, a nitric oxide releasing agent, resulted in the stimulation of JNK1 activity. The sodium nitroprusside-induced stimulation of JNK1 activity was abolished by treatment of cells with N-acetylcysteine. Nitric oxide production from HEK293 cells ectopically expressing nitric oxide synthases resulted in the stimulation of JNK1 activity, while JNK1 stimulation in nitric oxide synthase-overexpressing cells was abrogated by a nitric oxide synthase inhibitor, N(G)-nitro-L-arginine. Furthermore, exposure of cells to sodium nitroprusside resulted in the stimulation of JNK kinase (JNKK1/SEK1). Taken together, our data suggest that nitric oxide modulates the JNK activity through activating JNKK1/SEK1.
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