Proteasome inhibitors activate stress kinases and induce Hsp72. Diverse effects on apoptosis

Anatoli B. Meriin, Vladimir L. Gabai, Julia Yaglom, Victor I. Shifrin, Michael Y. Sherman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

285 Scopus citations


Inhibition of the major cytosolic protease, proteasome, has been reported to induce programmed cell death in several cell lines, while with other lines, similar inhibition blocked apoptosis triggered by a variety of harmful treatments. To elucidate the mechanism of pro- and antiapoptotic action of proteasome inhibitors, their effects on U937 lymphoid and 293 kidney human tumor cells were tested. Treatment with peptidyl aldehyde MG132 and other proteasome inhibitors led to a steady increase in activity of c- Jun N-terminal kinase, JNK1, which is known to initiate the apoptotic program in response to certain stresses. Dose dependence of MG132-induced JNK activation was parallel with that of apoptosis. Furthermore, inhibition of the JNK signaling pathway strongly suppressed MG132-induced apoptosis. These data indicate that JNK is critical for the cell death caused by proteasome inhibitors. An antiapoptotic action of proteasome inhibitors could be revealed by a short incubation of cells with MG132 followed by its withdrawal. Under these conditions, the major heat shock protein Hsp72 accumulated in cells and caused suppression of JNK activation in response to certain stresses. Accordingly, pretreatment with MG132 reduced JNK-dependent apoptosis caused by heat shock or ethanol, but it was unable to block JNK- independent apoptosis induced by TNFα. Therefore, proteasome inhibitors activate JNK, which initiates an apoptotic program, and simultaneously they induce Hsp72, which suppresses JNK-dependent apoptosis. A balance between these two effects might define the fate of cells exposed to the inhibitors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6373-6379
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number11
StatePublished - 13 Mar 1998
Externally publishedYes


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