jun-N-terminal kinase regulates thrombin-induced PAI-1 gene expression in proximal tubular epithelial cells

Kidney Int. 2004 Jun;65(6):2249-61. doi: 10.1111/j.1523-1755.2004.00644.x.


Background: Interstitial activation of the coagulation cascade is a common finding in acute and chronic tubulointerstitial damage. We previously demonstrated that thrombin may induce proximal tubular epithelial cells (PTEC) proliferation and regulate, through plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAI)-1 and urokinase-type plasminogen activator (u-PA), their profibrotic activity. The signaling pathways leading to these effects are still unknown. The PAI-1 promoter contains several activator protein-1 (AP-1) consensus sequences. AP-1 activation is induced by different agonists through jun-N-terminal kinase (JNK). Thus, we investigated the role of the JNK-AP-1 axis on thrombin-induced PAI-1 and u-PA expression in immortalized PTEC and its modulation by PKC and src, two key signaling enzymes.

Methods: JNK and src activation was investigated by Western blotting, PAR-1 cellular surface expression by flow cytometry, PAI-1 and u-PA gene expression by Northern blotting, AP-1 activation by transient transfection, and DNA synthesis by (3)H-thymidine uptake.

Results: Thrombin and PMA induced a time-dependent increase of JNK phosphorylation in immortalized PTEC that was inhibited by PKC down-regulation. Both thrombin and PMA caused AP-1 activation, significantly reduced by src inhibition. Phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA), indeed, induced an increase in src phosphorylation. Both PMA- and thrombin-stimulated PAI-1 gene expression was abolished by JNK, protein kinase C (PKC), and src inhibition, and this effect was regulated at the trascriptional level. PKC, but not src or JNK inhibition, abolished thrombin-elicited u-PA expression. Finally, JNK inhibition did not influence thrombin-induced proliferation.

Conclusion: Our data suggest that thrombin activates the JNK-AP-1 axis in a PKC- and src-dependent manner in PTEC. This axis, necessary for thrombin-stimulated PAI-1 expression, but not for its fibrinolytic and regenerative effect, may represent a therapeutic target in acute and chronic tubulointerstitial damage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Cell Line
  • DNA / genetics
  • Epithelial Cells / drug effects
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Gene Expression / drug effects
  • Humans
  • JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Kidney Tubules, Proximal / drug effects*
  • Kidney Tubules, Proximal / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological
  • Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor 1 / genetics*
  • Protein Kinase C / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate / pharmacology
  • Thrombin / pharmacology*
  • Transcription Factor AP-1 / metabolism
  • Urokinase-Type Plasminogen Activator / genetics
  • src-Family Kinases / metabolism


  • Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor 1
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Transcription Factor AP-1
  • DNA
  • src-Family Kinases
  • Protein Kinase C
  • JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • Thrombin
  • Urokinase-Type Plasminogen Activator
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate