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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

c-Jun N-terminal kinases (JNKs) and the cytoskeleton--functions beyond neurodegeneration.

The c-Jun N-terminal kinases (JNKs) are important mediators of neurodegeneration and their actions include the activation of genetic programs by phosphorylation of the nuclear transcription factor c-Jun/AP-1, the release of cytochrome c or the pro-inflammatory actions of microglia. Recent data, however, provide evidence for physiological functions of JNKs in particular JNK1, and this involves a role of JNKs in the development of the brain and the (functional and/or structural) integrity of the cytoskeleton. Here we summarize our findings on the cytoskeleton-associated actions of JNKs. Thus, JNKs the relevant MAP kinases for the NGF-induced formation and elongation of PC12 cells, and this process is also supported by JNK2 and JNK3 which are commonly considered as pro-apoptotic signal transducers. Importantly, JNK3 is also mandatory for the intact differentiation of neurons since the functional deletion of JNK3 caused apoptotic features such as activation of caspase 3 in untreated P0 primary hippocampal neurons and following glutamate excitotoxicity. Finally, we can visualize the presence of JNKs at the cytoskeleton, axon and growth cones of primary hippocampal neurons and PC12 cells, and this pattern changes following excitatory stimulation with glutamate. Thus, the functional role of JNKs during development and differentiation substantially differs from their degenerative actions in the adult brain.[1]


  1. c-Jun N-terminal kinases (JNKs) and the cytoskeleton--functions beyond neurodegeneration. Gelderblom, M., Eminel, S., Herdegen, T., Waetzig, V. Int. J. Dev. Neurosci. (2004) [Pubmed]
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