Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinase (MEK) Activity Is Required for Inhibition of Skeletal Muscle Differentiation by Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1 or Fibroblast Growth Factor 2

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Both insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) and fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF-2) are key modulators of skeletal myoblast differentiation. The critical signaling pathways used by either IGF-1 or FGF-2 to inhibit differentiation have not been determined. In this study, we show that both IGF-1 and FGF-2 inhibit the differentiation of 23A2 myoblasts and that both stimulate signaling through mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) kinase (MEK) to MAPK roughly 8-fold in 23A2 myoblasts. We used the selective chemical inhibitor of MEK, PD 098059, to determine if signaling by MEK is required by IGF-1 or FGF-2 to inhibit differentiation. PD 098059 did not affect the ability of 23A2 myoblasts to differentiate. Addition of PD 098059 to the culture medium 10 min before the addition of IGF-1 or FGF-2 completely blocked the signal from MEK to MAPK and restored the ability of the 23A2 myoblasts to differentiate in the presence of either IGF-1 or FGF-2. The peak of signaling through MEK to MAPK in response to either IGF-1 or FGF-2 occurred within the first hour with maximal activation observed after 10 min. This signal remained elevated (at roughly 70% above basal) for at least 48 h, PD 098059 was added to the culture 60 min after IGF-1 or FGF-2 to test whether this initial peak of signaling was sufficient for the inhibition of differentiation. The restoration of myogenic potential seen when cells were preincubated with PD 098059 was essentially identical to that seen when PD 098059 was added to cultures after the initial peak of signaling from MEK to MAPK, suggesting that persistent signaling through MEK is required for the inhibition of differentiation by either IGF-1 or FGF-2.