The activation of both phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3-kinase) and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38 MAPK) is required for muscle differentiation. However, it is not known whether the signals from these two kinases interact during this process. In this work, we have investigated this using H9c2 cardiac myoblasts. The p38 MAPK-specific inhibitor SB203580 blocked muscle differentiation and suppressed the expression of myogenin and myosin heavy chain in a concentration-dependent manner. Consistent with this, expression of a wild-type p38 MAPK (Ha-p38) or a constitutively active MAPK kinase 6 (MKK6(glu)) promoted the rate of differentiation into multinucleated myotubes. LY294002, a PI3-kinase inhibitor, suppressed in a dose-dependent manner not only muscle differentiation but also activation of p38 MAPK. In addition, expression of a constitutively active form of PI3-kinase (p110*) enhanced myotube formation and p38 MAPK activation, while expression of a dominant negative form of PI3-kinase (Deltap85) attenuated these responses. Furthermore, SB203580 suppressed differentiation of H9c2 cells expressing p110*. Interestingly, LY294002 also suppressed differentiation of H9c2 cells expressing Ha-p38 or MKK6(glu). However, SB203580 did not affect PI3-kinase activity, suggesting that PI3-kinase myogenic signaling to p38 MAPK is unidirectional. Taken together, we concluded that PI3-kinase activates p38 MAPK, which in turn stimulates muscle differentiation, but that p38 MAPK does not substitute for PI3-kinase in this process.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.