Role of p38γ MAPK in regulation of EMT and cancer stem cells

Mei Xu, Siying Wang, Yongchao Wang, Huaxun Wu, Jacqueline A. Frank, Zhuo Zhang, Jia Luo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


p38γ is a member of p38 MAPK family which contains four isoforms p38α p38β p38γ and p38δ. p38γ MAPK has unique function and is less investigated. Recent studies revealed that p38γ MAPK may be involved in tumorigenesis and cancer aggressiveness. However, the underlying cellular/molecular mechanisms remain unclear. Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a process that epithelial cancer cells transform to facilitate the loss of epithelial features and gain of mesenchymal phenotype. EMT promotes cancer cell progression and metastasis, and is involved in the regulation of cancer stem cells (CSCs) which have self-renewal capacity and are resistant to chemotherapy and target therapy. We showed that p38γ MAPK significantly increased EMT in breast cancer cells; over-expression of p38γ MAPK enhanced EMT while its down-regulation inhibited EMT. Meanwhile, p38γ MAPK augmented CSC population while knock down of p38γ MAPK decreased CSC ratio in breast cancer cells. MicroRNA-200b (miR-200b) was down-stream of p38γ MAPK and inhibited by p38γ MAPK; miR-200b mimics blocked p38γ MAPK-induced EMT while miR-200b inhibitors promoted EMT. p38γ MAPK regulated miR-200b through inhibiting GATA3. p38γ MAPK induced GATA3 ubiquitination, leading to its proteasome-dependent degradation. Suz12, a Polycomb group protein, was down-stream of miR-200b and involved in miR-200b regulation of EMT. Thus, our study established an important role of p38γ MAPK in EMT and identified a novel signaling pathway for p38γ MAPK–mediated tumor promotion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3605-3617
Number of pages13
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Basis of Disease
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier B.V.


  • Cancer stem cells
  • Metastasis
  • MicroRNA
  • p38γ MAPK

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Role of p38γ MAPK in regulation of EMT and cancer stem cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this