Glycogen synthase kinase 3β is a negative regulator of growth factor-induced activation of the c-Jun N-terminal kinase

Shuying Liu, Shuangxing Yu, Yutaka Hasegawa, Ruth LaPushin, Hong Ji Xu, James R. Woodgett, Gordon B. Mills, Xianjun Fang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


The c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK)/stress activated protein kinase is preferentially activated by stress stimuli. Growth factors, particularly ligands for G protein-coupled receptors, usually induce only modest JNK activation, although they may trigger marked activation of the related extracellular signal-regulated kinase. In the present study, we demonstrated that homozygous disruption of glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK-3β) dramatically sensitized mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) to JNK activation induced by lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) and sphingosine-1-phosphate, two prototype ligands for G protein-coupled receptors. To a lesser degree, a lack of GSK-3β also potentiated JNK activation in response to epidermal growth factor. In contrast, the absence of GSK-30 decreased UV light-induced JNK activation. The increased JNK activation induced by LPA in GSK-3β null MEFs was insufficient to trigger apoptotic cell death or growth inhibition. Instead, the increased JNK activation observed in GSK-3β-/- MEFs was associated with an increased proliferative response to LPA, which was reduced by the inhibition of JNK. Ectopic expression of GSK-3β in GSK-3β-negative MEFs restrained LPA-triggered JNK phosphorylation and induced a concomitant decrease in the mitogenic response to LPA compatible with GSK-3β through the inhibition of JNK activation, thus limiting LPA-induced cell proliferation. Mutation analysis indicated that GSK-3β kinase activity was required for GSK-3β to optimally inhibit LPA-stimulated JNK activation. Thus GSK-3β serves as a physiological switch to specifically repress JNK activation in response to LPA, sphingosine-1-phosphate, or the epidermal growth factor. These results reveal a novel role for GSK-3β in signal transduction and cellular responses to growth factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51075-51081
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number49
StatePublished - Dec 3 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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