Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The stress-activated c-Jun N-terminal protein kinase (JNK) and p38 mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase (p38) regulate apoptosis induced by several forms of cellular insults. Potential targets for these kinases include members of the Bcl-2 family proteins, which mediate apoptosis generated through the mitochondria-initiated, intrinsic cell death pathway. Indeed, the activities of several Bcl-2 family proteins, both pro- and anti-apoptotic, are controlled by JNK phosphorylation. For example, the pro-apoptotic activity of Bim(EL), a member of the Bcl-2 family, is stimulated by JNK phosphorylation at Ser-65. In contrast, there is no reported evidence that p38-induced apoptosis is due to direct phosphorylation of Bcl-2 family proteins. Here we report evidence that sodium arsenite-induced apoptosis in PC12 cells may be due to direct phosphorylation of Bim(EL) at Ser-65 by p38. This conclusion is supported by data showing that ectopic expression of a wild type, but not a non-phosphorylatable S65A mutant of Bim(EL), potentiates sodium arsenite-induced apoptosis and by experiments showing direct phosphorylation of Bim(EL) at Ser-65 by p38 in vitro. Furthermore, sodium arsenite induced Bim(EL) phosphorylation at Ser-65, which was blocked by p38 inhibition. This study provides the first example whereby p38 induces apoptosis by phosphorylating a member of the Bcl-2 family and illustrates that phosphorylation of Bim(EL) on Ser-65 may be a common regulatory point for cell death induced by both JNK and p38 pathways.

Original publication




Journal article


J Biol Chem

Publication Date





25215 - 25222


Animals, Apoptosis, Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins, Arsenites, Bcl-2-Like Protein 11, Cell Survival, Enzyme Inhibitors, Membrane Proteins, Oxidative Stress, PC12 Cells, Phosphorylation, Protein Structure, Tertiary, Proto-Oncogene Proteins, Rats, Serine, Sodium Compounds, Transfection, p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases