Activation of the JNK signaling pathway: breaking the brake on apoptosis

Bioessays. 2003 Jan;25(1):17-24. doi: 10.1002/bies.10204.


The JNK signaling pathway is involved in regulation of many cellular events, including growth control, transformation and programmed cell death (apoptosis). The role of JNK activation in apoptosis is highly controversial, being suggested to have a pro-apoptotic, anti-apoptotic or no role in this process. It appears that the JNK pathway functions in a cell-type and stimulus-dependent manner and its different components can sometimes play opposing roles in apoptosis. Recent studies reveal that the effect of JNK activation on apoptosis depends on the activity of other signaling pathways like the NF-kappaB pathway. Here we propose a model that can explain how activation of the JNK pathway "breaks the brake" on apoptosis, thereby regulating, but not initiating the apoptotic process.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Survival
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Humans
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 8
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Time Factors


  • NF-kappa B
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 8
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases