Serine/threonine-protein kinase involved in various processes such as cell proliferation, differentiation, migration, transformation and programmed cell death. Extracellular stimuli such as proinflammatory cytokines or physical stress stimulate the stress-activated protein kinase/c-Jun N-terminal kinase (SAP/JNK) signaling pathway. In this cascade, two dual specificity kinases MAP2K4/MKK4 and MAP2K7/MKK7 phosphorylate and activate MAPK9/JNK2. In turn, MAPK9/JNK2 phosphorylates a number of transcription factors, primarily components of AP-1 such as JUN and ATF2 and thus regulates AP-1 transcriptional activity. In response to oxidative or ribotoxic stresses, inhibits rRNA synthesis by phosphorylating and inactivating the RNA polymerase 1-specific transcription initiation factor RRN3. Promotes stressed cell apoptosis by phosphorylating key regulatory factors including TP53 and YAP1. In T-cells, MAPK8 and MAPK9 are required for polarized differentiation of T-helper cells into Th1 cells. Upon T-cell receptor (TCR) stimulation, is activated by CARMA1, BCL10, MAP2K7 and MAP3K7/TAK1 to regulate JUN protein levels. Plays an important role in the osmotic stress-induced epithelial tight-junctions disruption. When activated, promotes beta-catenin/CTNNB1 degradation and inhibits the canonical Wnt signaling pathway. Participates also in neurite growth in spiral ganglion neurons. Phosphorylates the CLOCK-ARNTL/BMAL1 heterodimer and plays a role in the regulation of the circadian clock (PubMed:22441692).