Glucocorticoid receptor-induced MAPK phosphatase-1 (MPK-1) expression inhibits paclitaxel-associated MAPK activation and contributes to breast cancer cell survival

Wei Wu, Travis Pew, Min Zou, Diana Pang, Suzanne D. Conzen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

139 Scopus citations


Glucocorticoid receptor (GR) activation has recently been shown to inhibit apoptosis in breast epithelial cells. We have previously described a group of genes that is rapidly up-regulated in these cells following dexamethasone (Dex) treatment. In an effort to dissect the mechanisms of GR-mediated breast epithelial cell survival, we now examine the molecular events downstream of GR activation. Here we show that GR activation leads to both the rapid induction of MAPK phosphatase-1 (MKP-1) mRNA and its sustained expression. Induction of the MKP-1 protein in the MCF10A-Myc and MDA-MB-231 breast epithelial cell lines was also seen. Paclitaxel treatment resulted in MAPK activation and apoptosis of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells, and both processes were inhibited by Dex pretreatment. Furthermore, induction of MKP-1 correlated with the inhibition of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK1/2) and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) activity, whereas p38 activity was minimally affected. Blocking Dex-induced MKP-1 induction using small interfering RNA increased ERK1/2 and JNK phosphorylation and decreased cell survival. ERK1/2 and JNK inactivation was associated with Ets-like transcription factor-1 (ELK-1) dephosphorylation. To explore the gene expression changes that occur downstream of ELK-1 dephosphorylation, we used a combination of temporal gene expression data and promoter element analyses. This approach revealed a previously unrecognized transcriptional target of ELK-1, the human tissue plasminogen activator (tPA). We verified the predicted ELK-1 → tPA transcriptional regulatory relationship using a luciferase reporter assay. We conclude that GR-mediated MAPK inactivation contributes to cell survival and that the potential transcriptional targets of this inhibition can be identified from large scale gene array analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4117-4124
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Feb 11 2005
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

Cite this