We have shown that the two types of cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA) in NG108-15 cells differentially mediate forskolin- and ethanol-induced cAMP response element (CRE)-binding protein (CREB) phosphorylation and CRE-mediated gene transcription. Activated type II PKA is translocated into the nucleus where it phosphorylates CREB. By contrast, activated type I PKA does not translocate to the nucleus but is required for CRE-mediated gene transcription by inducing the activation of other transcription cofactors such as CREB-binding protein (CBP). We show here that CBP is required for forskolin- and ethanol-induced CRE-mediated gene expression. Forskolin- and ethanol-induced CBP phosphorylation, demonstrable at 10 min, persists up to 24 h. CBP phosphorylation requires type I PKA but not type II PKA. In NG108-15 cells, ethanol and forskolin activation of type I PKA also inhibits several components of the MAPK pathway including B-Raf kinase, ERK1/2, and p90RSK phosphorylation. As a result, unphosphorylated p90RSK no longer binds to nor inhibits CBP. Moreover, MEK inhibition by PD98059 induces a significant increase of CRE-mediated gene activation. Taken together, our findings suggest that inhibition of the MAPK pathway enhances cAMP-dependent gene activation during exposure of NG108-15 cells to ethanol. This mechanism appears to involve type I PKA-dependent phosphorylation of CBP and inhibition of MEK-dependent phosphorylation of p90RSK. Under these conditions p90RSK is no longer bound to CBP, thereby promoting CBP-dependent CREB-mediated gene expression.