The inflammatory cytokine TNF-α stimulates several presumed pro-atherogenic signaling events in endothelial cells (ECs), including activation of c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK) and induction of E-selectin. Here, we show that apoptosis signal-regulating kinase 1 (ASK1), a MAP kinase kinase kinase, is required for TNF-mediated JNK activation. TNF activates ASK1 in part by dissociating ASK1 from its inhibitor 14-3-3. Because the risk of atherosclerosis is decreased in regions of steady laminar flow, we hypothesized that laminar flow inhibits proinflammatory cytokine-mediated activation of JNK. Steady laminar flow inhibited both TNF activation of ASK1 and JNK. Inhibition of ASK1 by flow correlated with increased association of ASK1 with 14-3-3. A constitutively active form of ASK1 lacking the 14-3-3-binding site (ASK1-ΔNS967A) was not inhibited by flow. These data establish ASK1 as a target for flow-mediated inhibition of cytokine signaling and indicate a novel role for 14-3-3 as an anti-inflammatory mediator in ECs.
Yingmei Liu, Guoyong Yin, James Surapisitchat, Bradford C. Berk, Wang Min