Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we will assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you will not see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) signaling pathway plays a critical role in mediating apoptosis in the nervous system; however, the mechanisms by which JNK triggers neuronal apoptosis remain incompletely understood. Recent studies suggest that in addition to inducing transcription of pro-apoptotic genes, JNK also directly activates the cell death machinery. Here, we report that JNK catalyzed the phosphorylation of the BH3-only protein Bcl-2 interacting mediator of cell death (BimEL) at serine 65, both in vitro and in vivo. The JNK-induced phosphorylation of BimEL at serine 65 promoted the apoptotic effect of BimEL in primary cerebellar granule neurons. We also characterized the role of the JNK-BimEL signaling pathway in apoptosis that was triggered by overexpression of the p75 neurotrophin receptor (p75NTR). We found that activation of p75NTR induced the JNK-dependent phosphorylation of endogenous BimEL at serine 65 in cells. The genetic knockdown of BimEL by RNA interference or the expression of a dominant interfering form of BimEL significantly impaired the ability of activated p75NTR to induce apoptosis. Together, these results suggest that JNK-induced phosphorylation of BimEL at serine 65 mediates p75NTR-induced apoptosis. Our findings define a novel mechanism by which a death-receptor pathway directly activates the mitochondrial apoptotic machinery.

Original publication




Journal article


J Neurosci

Publication Date





8762 - 8770


Amino Acid Sequence, Animals, Apoptosis, Cell Line, Cells, Cultured, Humans, JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases, MAP Kinase Kinase Kinase 1, MAP Kinase Signaling System, Molecular Sequence Data, Neurons, PC12 Cells, Phosphorylation, Rats, Receptor, Nerve Growth Factor, Receptors, Nerve Growth Factor, Serine