We have studied the role of Jun/stress-activated protein kinase (JNK/SAPK) pathway in DNA repair and cisplatin resistance in T98G glioblastoma cells. JUN/SAPK is activated by DNA damage and phosphorylates serines 63 and 73 in the N-terminal domain of c-Jun, which is known to increase its transactivation properties. We show that treatment of T98G glioblastoma cells with cisplatin but not the transplatin isomer activates JNK/SAPK about 10-fold. T98G cells, which are highly resistent to cisplatin (IC50 = 140 +/- 13 microM), modified to express a nonphosphorylatable dominant negative c-Jun (termed dnJun) exhibit decreased viability following treatment with cisplatin, but not transplatin, in proportion (rPearson = 0.98) to the level of dnJun expressed leading to a 7-fold decreased IC50. Similar effects are observed in U87 cells, PC-3 cells, and MCF-7 cells, as well as in T98G cells modified to express TAM-67, a known inhibitor of c-Jun function. In contrast, no sensitization effect was observed in cells modified to express wild-type c-Jun. Furthermore, through quantitative polymerase chain reaction-stop assays, we show that dnJun expressing cells were inhibited in repair of cisplatin adducts (p = 0.55), whereas repair is readily detectable (p = 0.003) in parental cells. These observations indicate that the JNK/SAPK pathway is activated by cisplatin-induced DNA damage and that this response is required for DNA repair and viability following cisplatin treatment. Regulation of DNA repair following genotoxic stress may be a normal physiological role of the JNK/SAPK pathway.