MEK inhibition augments Raf activity, but has variable effects on mitogenesis, in vascular smooth muscle cells

Robert H Weiss, Elizabeth A. Maga, Al Ramirez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Proteins comprising the mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase signaling cascade are activated by a variety of growth factors, but the precise role of this series of kinase reactions, especially Raf kinase and MAP kinase kinase (MEK), in vascular smooth muscle (VSM) cell mitogenesis is not known. In this study, a specific and selective inhibitor of MEK, PD-98059, was used to examine the role of MEK in DNA synthesis and Raf-1 activity in VSM cells stimulated with serum as well as with growth factors encompassing both tyrosine kinase and G protein-coupled receptor classes. Although significant increases in DNA synthesis are seen after stimulation of VSM cells with either 10% serum, platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-BB, or α-thrombin, preincubation of the cells with 50 μM PD-98059 for i h inhibits stimulation by PDGF and thrombin, but not by serum. There is a dose-dependent inhibition of the mitogenic effect by PD-98059 in all cases; these results are not affected when PD-98059 is added at times ranging from 4 h before to 2 h after growth factor addition (times at which PD-98059 exerts its inhibitory effect). In the presence of PD-98059, stimulated MAP kinase activity is attenuated when growth factors are added between 10 min and 4 h, times which correspond to both early and sustained phases of MAP kinase activity. In addition, Raf-1 activity is markedly increased by incubation of the cells with PD-98059, despite attenuation of hyperphosphorylation of this kinase. Thus growth factors coupled to both tyrosine kinase and G protein receptors require components of the MAP kinase cascade (MEK and/or MAP kinase) for VSM cell mitogenesis, whereas serum is capable of stimulatory effects in the absence of active MEK and MAP kinase. Furthermore, there exists a functional feedback stimulatory effect of inhibited MEK on its upstream activator Raf-1 in the case of serum as well as growth factors coupled to tyrosine kinase and G protein receptors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology
Issue number6 43-6
StatePublished - Jun 1998


  • α-thrombin
  • Mitogen-activated protein kinase
  • PD-98059
  • Platelet-derived growth factor-BB

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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