The activity of c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) was initially described as ultraviolet- and oncogene-induced kinase activity on c-Jun. Shortly after this initial discovery, JNK activation was reported for a wider variety of DNA-damaging agents, including γ-irradiation and chemotherapeutic compounds. As the DNA damage response mechanisms were progressively uncovered, the mechanisms governing the activation of JNK upon genotoxic stresses became better understood. In particular, a recent set of papers links the physical breakage in DNA, the activation of the transcription factor NF-κB, the secretion of TNF-α, and an autocrine activation of the JNK pathway. In this review, we will focus on the pathway that is initiated by a physical break in the DNA helix, leading to JNK activation and the resultant cellular consequences. The implications of these findings will be discussed in the context of cancer therapy with DNA-damaging agents.
Keywords: DNA damage; JNK; UV irradiation.