Although ischemia-reperfusion produces reactive oxygen species and induces injury of the heart, the mechanism leading to injury is largely unknown. Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is widely used for a reagent to mimic the action of reactive oxygen species produced by ischemia-reperfusion. Treatment of the rat neonatal myocytes with H2O2 resulted in activation of mitogen- activated protein kinases (MAPKs) such as extracellular signal regulated kinase (ERK), c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK) and p38. To study the involvement of βγ subunit of heterotrimeric G protein in H2O2-induced activation of MAPKs, we expressed the carboxyl terminus of G protein-coupled receptor kinase 2 (GRK2-ct) which can bind βγ subunit and inhibit the interaction with various effector proteins. Expression of GRK2-ct inhibited the H2O2-induced activation of ERK by 70% and also inhibited the activation of Akt by 30%. In contrast with H2O2-induced activation of ERK, the activation of ERK induced by phorbol ester PMA and the activation of JNK and p38 induced by H2O2 were not affected by expression of GRK2-ct, indicating that the activation of ERK but not JNK and p38 is dependent on βγ subunit. Among several inhibitors for analyzing intracellular signaling pathways, wortmannin inhibited the activation of ERK by H2O2 treatment. These data suggest that treatment of the rat neonatal myocytes with H2O2 releases βγ subunit from heterotrimeric G protein, and leads to activation of ERK in part by phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase dependent pathway. Thus βγ subunit may be a novel target molecule to selectively modulate the intracellular signaling cascade.
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