CD40 mediated human cholangiocyte apoptosis requires JAK2 dependent activation of STAT3 in addition to activation of JNK1/2 and ERK1/2

Jalal Ahmed-Choudhury, Kevin T Williams, Lawrence S Young, David H Adams, Simon C Afford

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41 Citations (Scopus)


CD40 is critically involved in Fas-mediated cholangiocyte apoptosis during liver inflammation, but the underlying signalling events are poorly understood. Our recent work implicated AP-1 in CD40-induced cholangiocyte apoptosis, but suggested involvement of other signalling pathways. Because STAT3 has been implicated in liver regeneration we investigated this signalling pathway during CD40 mediated cholangiocyte apoptosis. Western immunoblotting, electrophoretic mobility gel shift assays, In situ DNA end labelling and caspase-3 activity were used to investigate intracellular signalling and apoptosis in primary human cholangiocytes following CD40 activation. CD40-activation induced caspase-3 dependent cholangiocyte apoptosis and 3-fold increases in JNK/ERK phosphorylation (concomitant with increased AP-1 binding activity) and 4-fold increases in pSTAT3, which were sustained for up to 24 h. Protein levels of c-Jun, c-Fos and pSTAT3 confirmed the upregulation. Phosphorylation of p38 remained unchanged suggesting that this MAP kinase was not involved in CD40 mediated apoptosis. Increased JAK2 phosphorylation accompanied increased STAT3 phosphorylation after CD40 ligation. Cholangiocytes were also shown to express JAK1 and 3 which was phosphorylated following control stimulation with TNFalpha or IL2 respectively but not after CD40 ligation. JNK, ERK and JAK2 inhibitors partially abrogated apoptosis and when used in combination reduced it to basal levels. In conclusion, induction of CD40-mediated cholangiocyte apoptosis requires JAK2-mediated phosphorylation of STAT3 as well as sustained JNK1/2, ERK1/2 activation. This study demonstrates that STAT3 can function as a proapoptotic factor in primary human liver epithelial cells.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)456-68
Number of pages13
JournalCellular Signalling
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2006


  • Adenine
  • Antigens, CD40
  • Apoptosis
  • DNA
  • Humans
  • Janus Kinase 2
  • Liver
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 1
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 3
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 8
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 9
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transcription Factor AP-1
  • Tyrphostins


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