Activation of transcription factor AP-1 and mitogen-activated protein kinases in aniline-induced splenic toxicity

M. Firoze Khan, Subburaj Kannan, Jianling Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Signaling mechanisms in aniline-induced fibrogenic and/or tumorigenic response in the spleen are not known. Previous studies have shown that aniline exposure leads to iron accumulation and oxidative stress in the spleen, which may cause activation of redox-sensitive transcription factors and regulate the transcription of genes involved in fibrosis and/or tumorigenesis. To test this, male SD rats were treated with 0.5 mmol/kg/day aniline via drinking water for 30 days, and activation of transcription factor AP-1 was determined in the splenocyte nuclear extracts (NEs). AP-1 DNA-binding activity in the NEs of freshly isolated splenocytes from aniline-treated rats increased in comparison to the controls, as determined by electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA). AP-1 binding was also determined in the NEs of cultured splenocytes (2 h and 24 h), which showed even a greater increase in binding activity at 2 h. The specificity of AP-1 binding for relevant DNA motifs was confirmed by competition EMSA and by supershift EMSA using antibodies specific to c-Jun and c-Fos. To further explore the signaling mechanisms in the AP-1 activation, phosphorylation patterns of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) were pursued. Aniline exposure induced increases in the phosphorylation of the three classes of MAPKs: extracellular-signal-regulated kinase (ERK 1/2), c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK 1/2), and p38 MAPKs. Furthermore, TGF-β1 mRNA expression showed a 3-fold increase in the spleens of aniline-treated rats. These observations suggest a strong association among MAPK phosphorylation, AP-1 activation, and enhanced TGF-β1 gene expression. The observed sequence of events subsequent to aniline exposure could regulate genes that lead to fibrogenic and/or tumorigenic response in the spleen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)86-93
Number of pages8
JournalToxicology and Applied Pharmacology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 2006


  • AP-1
  • Aniline
  • MAPK
  • Oxidative stress
  • Spleen
  • TGF-β1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology


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