Extracellular signal-regulated kinase transmits palytoxin-stimulated signals leading to altered gene expression in mouse keratinocytes

Janel K. Warmka, Susanna E. Winston, Nicholette A. Zeliadt, Elizabeth V Wattenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


We have been probing the molecular mechanisms of tumor promoters that stimulate distinct initial signals to define critical downstream biochemical events in carcinogenesis. The action of the novel skin tumor promoter palytoxin on signaling and gene expression in keratinocytes, the primary target cells of tumor promoters, was therefore investigated. Palytoxin stimulated an increase in mRNA for matrix metalloproteinase-13 (MMP-13), an enzyme implicated in carcinogenesis, in a keratinocyte cell line derived from initiated mouse skin (308). Palytoxin stimulated an increase in c-Fos binding to the activator protein-1 (AP-1) site present in the promoter of the mouse MMP-13 gene. This effect was specific because palytoxin had little effect on c-Jun, JunB, JunD, FosB, Fra-1, or Fra-2 binding or on overall levels of transcription factor binding. The increase in c-Fos binding corresponded to a palytoxin-stimulated increase in c-Fos protein levels. Palytoxin stimulated the activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), c-Jun N-terminal kinase, and p38. The MAPK kinase inhibitor PD 98059 blocked palytoxin-stimulated ERK activation. PD 98059 also blocked the palytoxin-stimulated increases in c-Fos protein levels, c-Fos binding to the AP-1 site, and MMP-13 mRNA. These studies identify important differences between palytoxin-stimulated signaling in keratinocytes derived from initiated mouse skin, the biologically relevant cell type, and other cell lines. Specifically, our data suggest that, in keratinocytes derived from initiated mouse skin, ERK plays an important role in transmitting palytoxin-stimulated signals to three downstream targets that are likely to affect carcinogenesis: c-Fos, AP-1, and MMP-13.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8-17
Number of pages10
JournalToxicology and Applied Pharmacology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Dr. Stuart Yuspa for contributing the 308 cell lines, Dr. Hideo Iba for contributing the pRSV-JunD vector, Dr. Paul R. Dobner for contributing the pCMV-FosB vector, Dr. Laura Mauro for sharing expertise with Northern blot analysis, and Dr. Laurie Hudson, Dr. William Toscano, Jr., and Dr. Binks Wattenberg for critical reading of this manuscript. Dr. Ziming Yu and Dr. Shunan Li contributed preliminary data that led to these studies. This work was supported by Research Project Grant RPG-00–290-01-TBE from the American Cancer Society.


  • Keratinocytes
  • Matrix metalloproteinase-13
  • Mitogen-activated protein kinases
  • Signal transduction
  • Tumor promoters


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