Distinct functions of JNK and c-Jun in oxidant-induced hepatocyte death

Muhammad Amir, Kun Liu, Enpeng Zhao, Mark J. Czaja

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Overactivation of c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK)/c-Jun signaling is a central mechanism of hepatocyte injury and death including that from oxidative stress. However, the functions of JNK and c-Jun are still unclear, and this pathway also inhibits hepatocyte death. Previous studies of menadione-induced oxidant stress demonstrated that toxicity resulted from sustained JNK/c-Jun activation as death was blocked by the c-Jun dominant negative TAM67. To further delineate the function of JNK/c-Jun signaling in hepatocyte injury from oxidant stress, the effects of direct JNK inhibition on menadione-induced death were examined. In contrast to the inhibitory effect of TAM67, pharmacological JNK inhibition by SP600125 sensitized the rat hepatocyte cell line RALA255-10G to death from menadione. SP600125 similarly sensitized mouse primary hepatocytes to menadione toxicity. Death from SP600125/menadione was c-Jun dependent as it was blocked by TAM67, but independent of c-Jun phosphorylation. Death occurred by apoptosis and necrosis and activation of the mitochondrial death pathway. Short hairpin RNA knockdowns of total JNK or JNK2 sensitized to death from menadione, whereas a jnk1 knockdown was protective. Jnk2 null mouse primary hepatocytes were also sensitized to menadione death. JNK inhibition magnified decreases in cellular ATP content and β-oxidation induced by menadione. This effect mediated cell death as chemical inhibition of β-oxidation also sensitized cells to death from menadione, and supplementation with the β-oxidation substrate oleate blocked death. Components of the JNK/c-Jun signaling pathway have opposing functions in hepatocyte oxidant stress with JNK2 mediating resistance to cell death and c-Jun promoting death.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3254-3265
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Cellular Biochemistry
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • ATP
  • Apoptosis
  • fatty acid oxidation
  • menadione
  • necrosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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