The c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK) is activated when cells are exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. However, the functional consequence of JNK activation in UV-irradiated cells has not been established. It is shown here that JNK is required for UV-induced apoptosis in primary murine embryonic fibroblasts. Fibroblasts with simultaneous targeted disruptions of all the functional ink genes were protected against UV-stimulated apoptosis. The absence of JNK caused a defect in the mitochondrial death signaling pathway, including the failure to release cytochrome c. These data indicate that mitochondria are influenced by proapoptotic signal transduction through the JNK pathway.
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