Gq-Induced Apoptosis is Mediated by AKT Inhibition That Leads to PKC-Induced JNK Activation

Guy Nadel, Zhong Yao, Ido Ben-Ami, Zvi Naor, Rony Seger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background/Aims: Gq protein-coupled receptors (GqPCRs) regulate various cellular processes including mainly proliferation and differentiation. In a previous study, we found that in prostate cancer cells, the GqPCR of GnRH induces apoptosis by reducing the PKC-dependent AKT activity and elevating JNK phosphorylation. Since it was thought that GqPCR induces mainly activation of AKT, we undertook to examine how general is this phenomenon and understand its signaling. Methods: We used various cells to follow the phosphorylation of signaling components using western blotting. Results: In a screen of 21 cell lines, we found that PKC activation results in the reduction of AKT activity, which correlates nicely to JNK activation and in some cases to apoptosis. To further understand the signaling pathways involved in this stimulation, we studied in detail the SVOG-4O and αT3-1 cells. We found that PGF2α and GnRH agonist (GnRH-a) indeed induce significant Gq-and PKC-dependent apoptosis in these cells. This is mediated by two signaling branches downstream of PKC, which converge at the level of MLK3 upstream of JNK. One branch consists on c-Src activation of the JNK cascade and the second involves reduction of AKT activity that alleviates its inhibitory effect on MLK3, to allow the flow of the c-Src signal to JNK. At the MAPKK level, we found that the signal is transmitted by MKK7 and not MKK4. Conclusion: Our results present a general mechanism that mediates a GqPCR-induced, death receptors-independent, apoptosis in physiological, as well as cancer-related systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-149
Number of pages14
JournalCellular Physiology and Biochemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2018


  • AKT
  • Apoptosis
  • Gq
  • JNK
  • PKC


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