The p38 MAPK inhibitor, PD169316, inhibits transforming growth factor beta-induced Smad signaling in human ovarian cancer cells

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2003 Oct 17;310(2):391-7. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2003.09.021.


Transforming growth factor beta (TGFbeta) can signal through a variety of Smad-independent pathways, including the p38 MAPK pathway. Recent work has shown that inhibitors of p38 MAPK, such as SB203580 and SB202190, can inhibit signaling induced by TGFbeta. Here we show that another p38 MAPK inhibitor, PD169316, abrogates signaling initiated by both TGFbeta and Activin A, but not bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) 4. Inhibition of TGFbeta signaling is dose dependent and results in reduced Smad2 and Smad3 phosphorylation, nuclear translocation, and up-regulation of the TGFbeta target gene Smad7. Reduced TGFbeta signaling is not due to abrogation of p38 MAPK activity, since blocking p38 MAPK activity with a dominant negative form of p38 MAPK has no effect on TGFbeta/Smad signaling. Our results show that use of PD169316 at 5 MICROM or higher can block TGFbeta signaling activity and thus caution must be used when attributing cellular activities exclusively to p38 MAPK signaling when these inhibitors are used experimentally.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imidazoles / pharmacology*
  • Inhibin-beta Subunits / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / genetics
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Mutation
  • Ovarian Neoplasms
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*
  • Smad Proteins
  • Trans-Activators / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Trans-Activators / metabolism
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Imidazoles
  • Smad Proteins
  • TGFB1 protein, human
  • Trans-Activators
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1
  • activin A
  • Activins
  • Inhibin-beta Subunits
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • 2-(4-nitrophenyl)-4-(4-fluorophenyl)-5-(4-pyridinyl)-1H-imidazole