Nitric oxide affects ERK signaling through down-regulation of MAP kinase phosphatase levels during larval development of the ascidian Ciona intestinalis.

PLoS ONE. 2014;9(7):e102907 DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0102907

 

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Journal Title: PLoS ONE

ISSN: 1932-6203 (Online)

Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS)

LCC Subject Category: Medicine | Science

Country of publisher: United States

Language of fulltext: English

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AUTHORS


Immacolata Castellano

Elena Ercolesi

Anna Palumbo

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Editorial Board

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Time From Submission to Publication: 24 weeks

 

Abstract | Full Text

In the ascidian Ciona intestinalis larval development and metamorphosis require a complex interplay of events, including nitric oxide (NO) production, MAP kinases (ERK, JNK) and caspase-3 activation. We have previously shown that NO levels affect the rate of metamorphosis, regulate caspase activity and promote an oxidative stress pathway, resulting in protein nitration. Here, we report that NO down-regulates MAP kinase phosphatases (mkps) expression affecting positively ERK signaling. By pharmacological approach, we observed that the reduction of endogenous NO levels caused a decrease of ERK phosphorylation, whereas increasing levels of NO induced ERK activation. We have also identified the ERK gene network affected by NO, including mpk1, mpk3 and some key developmental genes by quantitative gene expression analysis. We demonstrate that NO induces an ERK-independent down-regulation of mkp1 and mkp3, responsible for maintaining the ERK phosphorylation levels necessary for transcription of key metamorphic genes, such as the hormone receptor rev-erb and the van willebrand protein vwa1c. These results add new insights into the role played by NO during larval development and metamorphosis in Ciona, highlighting the cross-talk between different signaling pathways.