The p38 MAP kinase pathway and its biological function
p38 is a mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase with structural and functional characteristics that distinguish it from JNK and ERK MAP kinases. p38 activity is upregulated when cells are exposed to a variety of stimuli including bacterial pathogens, proinflammatory cytokines, certain growth factors, and other forms of environmental stress. By regulating downstream substrates that include protein kinases and transcription factors, p38 participates in transmission, amplification, and diversification of the extracellular signal, initiating several different cellular responses. Studies have revealed that activation of p38 pathway is related tot many pathological changes that occur in the course of inflammatory/immunologic and cardiovascular diseases. (C) 1998, Elsevier Science Inc.