Treatment of cells with agents that damage DNA leads to the induction of numerous genes. Recent studies aimed at understanding the events preceding the transcriptional activation of some of these DNA damage-inducible genes in mammalian cells have demonstrated that various extranuclear protein kinases are involved in the signaling cascades. The mammalian GADD153 gene, a member of the CCAAT enhancer-binding protein family of transcription factors, is highly induced by a variety of DNA-damaging agents as well as by certain growth arrest conditions and oxidative stresses. We have examined the effects of numerous protein kinase and phosphatase inhibitors on the DNA damage-induced expression of GADD153, to identify the signal transduction components involved in its transcriptional regulation. In contrast to the transcriptional activation of c-jun and collagenase in response to DNA damage, GADD153 induction involves neither protein kinase C nor tyrosine kinases but does appear to require an unidentified serine-threonine kinase. Elevation of intracellular glutathione levels by treatment with N-acetylcysteine did not affect the methyl methanesulfonate-induced expression of the GADD153 gene, although it did diminish cadmium chloride-induced expression. These findings suggest that oxidative stress and DNA damage regulate GADD153 transcription through different pathways. Based on our findings and those of others with respect to other DNA damage-inducible genes, we propose a model depicting the complex pathways which appear to be involved in the regulation of mammalian genes in response to genotoxic stress and in which the DNA damage-induced expression of GADD153 represents a unique pathway independent of either protein kinase C or tyrosine kinase.

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Presented at the 4th International Conference on Anticarcinogenesis & Radiation Protection, April 18–23, 1993, Baltimore, MD.

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