Subcellular localization determines the protective effects of activated ERK2 against distinct apoptogenic stimuli in myeloid leukemia cells

  • Ajenjo N
  • Canoñón E
  • Sánchez-Pérez I
 et al. 
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ERKs, mitogen-activated protein kinases, are well characterized as key mediators in the conveyance of signals that promote cell survival in cells of hemopoietic origin, a key factor in the upbringing of leukemogenesis. It is also well known that ERKs phosphorylate a wide array of substrates distributed throughout distinct cellular locations such as the nucleus, cytoplasm, and cell periphery, but the relative contribution of these compartmentalized signal components to the overall survival signal generated by activation of ERKs has yet to be established. To this end, we have utilized constitutively activated forms of ERK2, whose expression is restricted to the nucleus or to the cytoplasm, to investigate the consequences of compartmentalized activation of ERK in the survival of chronic myelogenous leukemia cells subjected to distinct apoptogenic stimuli. We show that cytoplasmic ERK2 activity protected against apoptosis caused by prolonged serum starvation, whereas ERK2 activation restricted to the nucleus antagonized apoptosis induced by the Bcr-Abl inhibitor STI571. On the other hand, neither cytoplasmic nor nuclear ERK2 activities were effective in counteracting apoptosis induced by UV light. These results demonstrate that the protective effects of ERK2 against defined apoptogenic stimuli are strictly dependent on the cellular localization where ERK activation takes place. Furthermore, we present evidence suggesting that the complex I kappa B-NF kappa B participates on ERK2-mediated survival mechanisms, in a fashion dependent on the cellular location where ERK2 is active and on the causative apoptogenic stimulus.

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