ERK activation by urea in the renal inner medullary mIMCD3 cell line

Xiao Yan Yang, Zheng Zhang, David M. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Urea- and NaCl-inducible extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) phosphorylation exhibited dissimilar kinetics. Among cell lines examined, the effect of urea was unique to mIMCD3 inner medullary collecting duct cells and MDCK cells. Urea-inducible ERK activation was ~10-fold less sensitive to the MEK inhibitor, PD-98059, than was that of NaCl. This difference did not appear to be accounted for by differential activation of MEK isoforms. Interestingly, the inhibitor of p38 activation, SB-203580, abrogated the effect of both urea and NaCl upon both ERK and MEK activation; however, the former was much less sensitive to the inhibitor. Consistent with this observation, NaCl was much more effective than urea at inducing p38 phosphorylation. The effect of hypertonic stress (e.g., sorbitol 100 mM) could be blocked by appropriate medium dilution such that isotonicity was maintained. In marked contrast, the effect of hyperosmotic urea could not be blocked in this fashion, implying the absence of dependence upon cell volume. Together, these data suggest that cells of the renal inner medulla are potentially uniquely responsive to urea and that urea and hypertonic stressors induce ERK activation through distinct mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)F176-F185
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Renal Physiology
Issue number2 46-2
StatePublished - Aug 1999


  • Extracellular signal-regulated kinase
  • Mitogen-activated protein kinase
  • P38
  • Sodium chloride

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Urology


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