Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection of airway epithelial cells stimulates the expression and secretion of a variety of cytokines including the chemotactic cytokines interleukin-8 (IL-8), monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1), and RANTES (regulated upon activation, normal T cell expressed and secreted). Chemokines are important chemoattractants for the recruitment of distinct sets of leukocytes to airway sites of inflammation.
We have shown previously that chemokine expression is regulated in airway epithelial cells (A549) in a stimulus-specific manner in part through the redox-responsive transcription factors AP-1 and NF-κB. In this study, we examined the NF-κB-mediated effects of RSV and the proinflammatory cytokine TNFα on the induction of IL-8, MCP-1 and RANTES chemokine gene expression in A549 epithelial cells. The results demonstrate that RSV induces chemokine expression with distinct kinetics that is associated with a specific pattern of NF-κB binding activity. This distinction was further demonstrated by the differential effects of the NF-κB inhibitors dexamethasone (DEX) and N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC). NAC preferentially inhibited RSV induced chemokine expression, whereas DEX preferentially inhibited TNFα induced chemokine expression. DNA binding studies using NF-κB subunit specific binding ELISA demonstrated that RSV and TNFα induced different NF-κB binding complexes containing Rel A (p65) and NF-κB1 (p50). Both TNFα and RSV strongly induced Rel A the activation subunit of NF-κB, whereas only TNFα was able to substantially induce the p50 subunit. Consistent with the expression studies, RSV but not TNFα induction of Rel A and p50 were markedly inhibited by NAC, providing a mechanism by which TNFα and RSV can differentially activate chemokine gene expression via NF-κB.
These data suggest that RSV induction of chemokine gene expression, in contrast to TNFα, involves redox-sensitive NF-κB complexes containing predominantly Rel A.