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1.  FBXW7α attenuates inflammatory signalling by downregulating C/EBPδ and its target gene Tlr4 
Nature communications  2013;4:1662.
Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) plays a pivotal role in innate immune responses, and the transcription factor CCAAT/enhancer binding protein delta (C/EBPδ, Cebpd) is a TLR4-induced gene. Here, we identify a positive feedback loop in which C/EBPδ activates Tlr4 gene expression in macrophages and tumour cells. In addition, we discovered a negative feedback loop whereby the tumour suppressor FBXW7α (FBW7, Cdc4), whose gene expression is inhibited by C/EBPδ, targets C/EBPδ for degradation when C/EBPδ is phosphorylated by GSK-3β. Consequently, FBXW7α suppresses Tlr4 expression and responses to the ligand lipopolysaccharide (LPS). FBXW7α depletion alone is sufficient to augment pro-inflammatory signalling in vivo. Moreover, as inflammatory pathways are known to modulate tumour biology, Cebpd null mammary tumours, which have reduced metastatic potential, show altered expression of inflammation-associated genes. Together, these findings reveal a role for C/EBPδ upstream of TLR4 signalling and uncover a function for FBXW7α as an attenuator of inflammatory signalling.
PMCID: PMC3625980  PMID: 23575666
2.  The Many Faces of C/EBPδ and their Relevance for Inflammation and Cancer 
The CCAAT/enhancer binding protein delta (CEBPD, C/EBPδ) is a transcription factor that modulates many biological processes including cell differentiation, motility, growth arrest, proliferation, and cell death. The diversity of C/EBPδ's functions depends in part on the cell type and cellular context and can have opposing outcomes. For example, C/EBPδ promotes inflammatory signaling, but it can also inhibit pro-inflammatory pathways, and in a mouse model of mammary tumorigenesis, C/EBPδ reduces tumor incidence but promotes tumor metastasis. This review highlights the multifaceted nature of C/EBPδ's functions, with an emphasis on pathways that are relevant for cancer and inflammation, and illustrates how C/EBPδ emerged from the shadow of its family members as a fascinating “jack of all trades.” Our current knowledge on C/EBPδ indicates that, rather than being essential for a specific cellular process, C/EBPδ helps to interpret a variety of cues in a cell-type and context-dependent manner, to adjust cellular functions to specific situations. Therefore, insights into the roles and mechanisms of C/EBPδ signaling can lead to a better understanding of how the integration of different signaling pathways dictates normal and pathological cell functions and physiology.
PMCID: PMC3805898  PMID: 24155666
C/EBP; transcription factor; cell signaling; inflammation; cancer.
3.  Molecular Mechanism Underlying Persistent Induction of LCN2 by Lipopolysaccharide in Kidney Fibroblasts 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e34633.
The neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin 2 (LCN2) is a critical inflammatory mediator persistently induced during endotoxemia, contributing to tubular damage and kidney failure. The intracellular process responsible for persistent induction of LCN2 by bacterial endotoxin Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) is not well understood. Using primary kidney fibroblasts, we observed that LPS-induced LCN2 expression requires a coupled circuit involving an early transient phase of AP-1 path and a late persistent phase of C/EBPδ path, both of which are dependent upon the interleukin 1 receptor associated kinase 1 (IRAK-1). Using immunoprecipitation analysis we observed transient binding of AP-1 to the promoters of both TNFα and C/ebpδ. On the other hand, we only observed persistent binding of C/EBPδ to its own promoter but not on TNFα. Blockage of new protein synthesis using cyclohexamide significantly reduced the expression of C/EBPδ as well as LCN2. By chromatin immunoprecipitation analyses, we demonstrated that LPS recruited C/EBPδ to the Lcn2 promoter in WT, but not IRAK-1 deficient fibroblasts. A differential equation-based computational model captured the dynamic circuit leading to the persistent induction of LCN2. In vivo, we observed elevated levels of LCN2 in kidneys harvested from LPS-injected WT mice as compared to IRAK-1 deficient mice. Taken together, this study has identified an integrated intracellular network involved in the persistent induction of LCN2 by LPS.
PMCID: PMC3326042  PMID: 22514649
4.  Differential Role for c-Rel and C/EBPβ/δ in TLR- Mediated Induction of Proinflammatory Cytokines 
Toll-like receptor (TLR) stimulation triggers a signaling pathway via MyD88 and IRAK-4 that is essential for proinflammatory cytokine induction. Although NF-κB has been shown to be one of the key transcriptional regulators of these cytokines, evidence suggests that other factors may also be important. Here we showed that MyD88-deficient macrophages have defective c-Rel activation, which has been linked to IL-12 p40 induction, but not IL-6 or TNFα. We also investigated other transcription factors and showed that C/EBPβ and C/EBPδ expression was limited in MyD88- or IRAK-4-deficient macrophages treated with LPS. Importantly, the absence of both C/EBPβ and C/EBPδ resulted in the impaired induction of proinflammatory cytokines stimulated by several TLR ligands. Our results identify c-Rel and C/EBPβ/δ as important transcription factors in a MyD88-dependent pathway that regulate the induction of proinflammatory cytokines.
PMCID: PMC2805849  PMID: 19454718
Lipopolysaccharide; Signal Transduction; Inflammation
5.  CCAAT/enhancer binding protein-δ expression by dendritic cells regulates CNS autoimmune inflammatory disease 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2011;31(48):17612-17621.
CCAAT enhancer binding protein-delta (C/EBPδ) is a transcription factor that regulates inflammatory processes mediating bystander neuronal injury and CNS autoimmune inflammatory disease. The mechanism of C/EBPδ’s involvement in these processes remains to be determined. Here we examined the cellular source(s) and mechanisms by which C/EBPδ may be involved in an animal model of multiple sclerosis. Mice deficient in C/EBPδ expression exhibited less severe clinical disease than wild type littermates in response to induction of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) by vaccination with a myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG) fragment. This reduction in EAE severity was associated with a significant alteration in the complement of major CNS T-helper (Th) cell subtypes throughout disease, manifest as reduced ratios of Th17 cells to regulatory T-cells (Tregs). Studies in bone marrow chimeric mice indicated that C/EBPδ expression by peripherally derived immune cells mediates C/EBPδ involvement in EAE. Follow up in vitro and in vivo examination of dendritic cell (DC) mediated Th-cell development suggests C/EBPδ suppresses DC expression of interleukin-10 (IL-10) and favours Th17 over Treg development. In vitro and in vivo blockade of IL-10 signalling reduced the effect of reduced DC C/EBPδ expression on Th17:Treg ratios. These findings identify C/EBPδ as an important DC transcription factor in CNS autoimmune inflammatory disease by virtue of its capacity to alter the Th17:Treg balance in an IL-10 dependent fashion.
PMCID: PMC3334319  PMID: 22131422
6.  Requirement for nuclear factor kappa B signalling in the interleukin-1-induced expression of the CCAAT/enhancer binding protein-δ gene in hepatocytes 
Elevated circulating levels of acute phase proteins (APP) are associated with inflammation and inflammatory disorders such as cardiovascular disease. APP are mainly synthesised by hepatocytes and their transcription is induced by pro-inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-1 (IL-1). The molecular mechanisms underlying the IL-1-induced expression of key transcription factors implicated in the regulation of APP are poorly understood. We have investigated this aspect using the CCAAT/enhancer binding protein-δ (C/EBPδ) as a model gene. IL-1 induced the expression of C/EBPδ mRNA and protein in the human hepatoma Hep3B cell line, a widely employed model system for studies on cytokine signalling in relation to the expression of APP. The IL-1-mediated induction of C/EBPδ expression was attenuated in the presence of pharmacological inhibitors against c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) (curcumin and SP600125), casein kinase 2 (CK2) (apigenin) and nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) (NF-κB activation inhibitor). RNA interference assays showed significant attenuation of the IL-1-induced expression of C/EBPδ following knockdown of the p50 and p65 subunits of NF-κB. IL-1 induced NF-κB DNA binding and activation by this transcription factor and this was attenuated by curcumin and apigenin. Taken together, these results suggest a potentially crucial role for NF-κB in the IL-1-induced expression of C/EBPδ, and thereby downstream APP genes regulated by this transcription factor.
PMCID: PMC2827769  PMID: 19800021
Acute phase proteins; CCAAT/enhancer binding proteins; Hepatocytes; Interleukin-1; Cell signalling
7.  Exploitation of the Toll-like receptor system in cancer: a doubled-edged sword? 
British Journal of Cancer  2006;95(3):247-252.
The toll-like receptor (TLR) system constitutes a pylogenetically ancient, evolutionary conserved, archetypal pattern recognition system, which underpins pathogen recognition by and activation of the immune system. Toll-like receptor agonists have long been used as immunoadjuvants in anti cancer immunotherapy. However, TLRs are increasingly implicated in human disease pathogenesis and an expanding body of both clinical and experimental evidence suggests that the neoplastic process may subvert TLR signalling pathways to advance cancer progression. Recent discoveries in the TLR system open a multitude of potential therapeutic avenues. Extrapolation of such TLR system manipulations to a clinical oncological setting demands care to prevent potentially deleterious activation of TLR-mediated survival pathways. Thus, the TLR system is a double-edge sword, which needs to be carefully wielded in the setting of neoplastic disease.
PMCID: PMC2360630  PMID: 16892041
toll-like receptors; toll-like receptor ligands; NF-κB; innate immunity; immunotherapy
8.  The Cebpd (C/EBPδ) Gene Is Induced by Luteinizing Hormones in Ovarian Theca and Interstitial Cells But Is Not Essential for Mouse Ovary Function 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(12):e1334.
The CCAAT/enhancer binding protein (CEBP) family of transcription factors includes five genes. In the ovary, both Cebpa and Cebpb are essential for granulosa cell function. In this study we have explored the role of the Cebpd gene in ovarian physiology by expression and functional studies. Here we report that Cebpd (C/EBPδ) is expressed in the mouse ovary in a highly restricted temporal and spatial pattern. In response to luteinizing hormone (LH/hCG), CEBPD expression is transiently induced in interstitial cells and in theca cells of follicles from the primary to pre-ovulatory stage, and overlaps in part with expression of the alpha-smooth muscle actin protein. Efficient down-regulation of CEBPD was dependent on a functional Cebpb gene. Proliferating human theca cells in culture also express Cebpd. Cells from patients with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) exhibited higher Cebpd expression levels. However, deletion of Cebpd in mice had no overt effect on ovarian physiology and reproductive function. Very little is known at present about the molecular mechanisms underlying theca/interstitial cell functions. The expression pattern of CEBPD reported here identifies a novel functional unit of mouse theca cells of primary through tertiary follicles responding to LH/hCG together with a subset of interstitial cells. This acute stimulation of CEBPD expression may be exploited to further characterize the hormonal regulation and function of theca and interstitial cells.
PMCID: PMC2129115  PMID: 18092000
9.  Pattern Recognition Receptors and Cytokines in Mycobacterium tuberculosis Infection—The Double-Edged Sword? 
BioMed Research International  2013;2013:179174.
Tuberculosis, an infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), remains a major cause of human death worldwide. Innate immunity provides host defense against Mtb. Phagocytosis, characterized by recognition of Mtb by macrophages and dendritic cells (DCs), is the first step of the innate immune defense mechanism. The recognition of Mtb is mediated by pattern recognition receptors (PRRs), expressed on innate immune cells, including toll-like receptors (TLRs), complement receptors, nucleotide oligomerization domain like receptors, dendritic cell-specific intercellular adhesion molecule grabbing nonintegrin (DC-SIGN), mannose receptors, CD14 receptors, scavenger receptors, and FCγ receptors. Interaction of mycobacterial ligands with PRRs leads macrophages and DCs to secrete selected cytokines, which in turn induce interferon-γ- (IFNγ-) dominated immunity. IFNγ and other cytokines like tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα) regulate mycobacterial growth, granuloma formation, and initiation of the adaptive immune response to Mtb and finally provide protection to the host. However, Mtb can evade destruction by antimicrobial defense mechanisms of the innate immune system as some components of the system may promote survival of the bacteria in these cells and facilitate pathogenesis. Thus, although innate immunity components generally play a protective role against Mtb, they may also facilitate Mtb survival. The involvement of selected PRRs and cytokines on these seemingly contradictory roles is discussed.
PMCID: PMC3844256  PMID: 24350246
10.  Crosstalk pathways between Toll-like receptors and the complement system 
Trends in immunology  2010;31(4):154-163.
The Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and complement are key innate defense systems that are rapidly triggered upon infection. Although both systems have been investigated primarily as separate entities, an emerging body of evidence indicates extensive crosstalk between complement and TLR signaling pathways. Analysis of these data suggests that the complement–TLR interplay reinforces innate immunity or regulates excessive inflammation, through synergistic or antagonistic interactions, respectively. However, the facility of complement and TLRs for communication is exploited by certain pathogens as a means to modify the host response in ways that favor the persistence of the pathogens. Further elucidation of regulatory links between complement and TLRs is essential for understanding their complex roles in health and disease.
PMCID: PMC2849859  PMID: 20153254
11.  Inhibition of the Type I Interferon Antiviral Response During Arenavirus Infection 
Viruses  2010;2(11):2443-2480.
Arenaviruses merit interest both as tractable experimental model systems to study acute and persistent viral infections, and as clinically-important human pathogens. Several arenaviruses cause hemorrhagic fever (HF) disease in humans. In addition, evidence indicates that the globally-distributed prototypic arenavirus lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) is a human pathogen of clinical significance in congenital infections, and also poses a great danger to immunosuppressed individuals. Arenavirus persistence and pathogenesis are facilitated by their ability to overcome the host innate immune response. Mammalian hosts have developed both membrane toll-like receptors (TLR) and cytoplasmic pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) that recognize specific pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs), resulting in activation of the transcription factors IRF3 or IRF7, or both, which together with NF-κB and ATF-2/c-JUN induce production of type I interferon (IFN-I). IFN-I plays a key role in host anti-microbial defense by mediating direct antiviral effects via up-regulation of IFN-I stimulated genes (ISGs), activating dendritic cells (DCs) and natural killer (NK) cells, and promoting the induction of adaptive responses. Accordingly, viruses have developed a plethora of strategies to disrupt the IFN-I mediated antiviral defenses of the host, and the viral gene products responsible for these disruptions are often major virulence determinants. IRF3- and IRF7-dependent induction of host innate immune responses is frequently targeted by viruses. Thus, the arenavirus nucleoprotein (NP) was shown to inhibit the IFN-I response by interfering with the activation of IRF3. This NP anti-IFN activity, together with alterations in the number and function of DCs observed in mice chronically infected with LCMV, likely play an important role in LCMV persistence in its murine host. In this review we will discuss current knowledge about the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which arenaviruses can subvert the host innate immune response and their implications for understanding HF arenaviral disease as well as arenavirus persistence in their natural hosts.
PMCID: PMC3185579  PMID: 21994626
arenavirus; type I interferon; hemorrhagic fever; innate immunity; lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus; nucleoprotein; dendritic cells
12.  Identification of a Src Tyrosine Kinase/SIAH2 E3 Ubiquitin Ligase Pathway That Regulates C/EBPδ Expression and Contributes to Transformation of Breast Tumor Cells 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2012;32(2):320-332.
The transcription factor CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein delta (C/EBPδ, CEBPD) is a tumor suppressor that is downregulated during breast cancer progression but may also promote metastasis. Here, we have investigated the mechanism(s) regulating C/EBPδ expression and its role in human breast cancer cells. We describe a novel pathway by which the tyrosine kinase Src downregulates C/EBPδ through the SIAH2 E3 ubiquitin ligase. Src phosphorylates SIAH2 in vitro and leads to tyrosine phosphorylation and activation of SIAH2 in breast tumor cell lines. SIAH2 interacts with C/EBPδ, but not C/EBPβ, and promotes its polyubiquitination and proteasomal degradation. Src/SIAH2-mediated inhibition of C/EBPδ expression supports elevated cyclin D1 levels, phosphorylation of retinoblastoma protein (Rb), motility, invasive properties, and survival of transformed cells. Pharmacological inhibition of Src family kinases by SKI-606 (bosutinib) induces C/EBPδ expression in an SIAH2-dependent manner, which is necessary for “therapeutic” responses to SKI-606 in vitro. Ectopic expression of degradation-resistant mutants of C/EBPδ, which do not interact with SIAH2 and/or cannot be polyubiquitinated, prevents full transformation of MCF-10A cells by activated Src (Src truncated at amino acid 531 [Src-531]) in vitro. These data reveal that C/EBPδ expression can be regulated at the protein level by oncogenic Src kinase signals through SIAH2, thus contributing to breast epithelial cell transformation.
PMCID: PMC3255785  PMID: 22037769
13.  IL-17 Receptor Signaling Negatively Regulates C/EBPβ by Sequential Phosphorylation of the Regulatory 2 Domain‡ 
Science signaling  2009;2(59):ra8.
IL-17, hallmark cytokine of the newly-described “Th17” population, signals through a novel subclass of receptors, yet surprisingly little is known about mechanisms of IL-17 receptor signaling. IL-17 activates target gene expression via NF-κB and two members of the C/EBP transcription factor family, C/EBPδ and C/EBPβ. It has been shown that TRAF6 and Act1 are upstream of NF-κB and C/EBPδ, but the signaling pathways regulating C/EBPβ remain entirely undefined. In this report, we demonstrate that IL-17 signaling leads to phosphorylation of two sites in the C/EBPβ “regulatory 2 domain” in a sequential, interdependent fashion. First rapid phosphorylation of Thr188 occurs within 15 minutes and is ERK-dependent. A second phosphorylation event targets Thr179, which requires prior Thr188 phosphorylation and GSK3β activity. We further show that the pathways leading to C/EBPβ phosphorylation are mediated by distinct subdomains within IL-17RA. Whereas phosphorylation of Thr188 is mediated by the previously-identified SEFIR/TILL domain, activation of Thr179 occurs through a motif located in the IL-17RA distal tail. Functionally, C/EBPβ phosphorylation mediates a negative signal, as blocking ERK and GSK3β upregulates IL-17-induced genes, and a C/EBPβ-Thr188 mutant enhances activation of a C/EBP-dependent reporter. Consistently, GSK3β overexpression inhibits IL-17 signaling to a C/EBP-dependent reporter, and GSK3β-deficient cells fail to induce phosphorylation at T179. Thus, IL-17 triggers dual phosphorylation of C/EBPβ, which down-modulates expression of inflammatory genes. This is the first detailed dissection of the IL-17-mediated C/EBP pathway and is also the first known example of a negative signal mediated by this unique receptor.
PMCID: PMC2754870  PMID: 19244213
14.  In Vivo Discrimination of Type 3 Secretion System-Positive and -Negative Pseudomonas aeruginosa via a Caspase-1-Dependent Pathway▿  
Infection and Immunity  2010;78(11):4744-4753.
Microbe-associated molecular patterns are recognized by Toll-like receptors of the innate immune system. This recognition enables a rapid response to potential pathogens but does not clearly provide a way for the innate immune system to discriminate between virulent and avirulent microbes. We find that pulmonary infection of mice with type 3 translocation-competent Pseudomonas aeruginosa triggers a rapid inflammatory response, while infection with isogenic translocation-deficient mutants does not. Discrimination between translocon-positive and -negative bacteria requires caspase-1 activity in bone marrow-derived cells and interleukin-1 receptor signaling. Thus, the activation of caspase-1 by bacteria expressing type 3 secretion systems allows for rapid recognition of bacteria expressing conserved functions associated with virulence.
PMCID: PMC2976309  PMID: 20823203
15.  The Role of T Helper (TH)17 Cells as a Double-Edged Sword in the Interplay of Infection and Autoimmunity with a Focus on Xenobiotic-Induced Immunomodulation 
Extensive research in recent years suggests that exposure to xenobiotic stimuli plays a critical role in autoimmunity induction and severity and that the resulting response would be exacerbated in individuals with an infection-aroused immune system. In this context, heavy metals constitute a prominent category of xenobiotic substances, known to alter divergent immune cell responses in accidentally and occupationally exposed individuals, thereby increasing the susceptibility to autoimmunity and cancer, especially when accompanied by inflammation-triggered persistent sensitization. This perception is learned from experimental models of infection and epidemiologic studies and clearly underscores the interplay of exposure to such immunomodulatory elements with pre- or postexposure infectious events. Further, the TH17 cell subset, known to be associated with a growing list of autoimmune manifestations, may be the “superstar” at the interface of xenobiotic exposure and autoimmunity. In this review, the most recently established links to this nomination are short-listed to create a framework to better understand new insights into TH17's contributions to autoimmunity.
PMCID: PMC3787652  PMID: 24151516
16.  ATF3 transcription factor and its emerging roles in immunity and cancer 
Activating transcription factor 3 (ATF3) is a member of the ATF/cyclic AMP response element-binding (ATF/CREB) family of transcription factors. It is an adaptive-response gene that participates in cellular processes to adapt to extra- and/or intracellular changes, where it transduces signals from various receptors to activate or repress gene expression. Advances made in understanding the immunobiology of Toll-like receptors have recently generated new momentum for the study of ATF3 in immunity. Moreover, the role of ATF3 in the regulation of the cell cycle and apoptosis has important implications for understanding susceptibility to and progression of several cancers.
PMCID: PMC2783469  PMID: 19705082
ATF3; Transcriptional regulation; Immunity; TLRs; Oncogenesis
17.  Negative regulatory approaches to the attenuation of Toll-like receptor signaling 
Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are pivotal components of the innate immune response, which is responsible for eradicating invading microorganisms through the induction of inflammatory molecules. These receptors are also involved in responding to harmful endogenous molecules and have crucial roles in the activation of the innate immune system and shaping the adaptive immune response. However, TLR signaling pathways must be tightly regulated because undue TLR stimulation may disrupt the fine balance between pro- and anti-inflammatory responses. Such disruptions may harm the host through the development of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus. Several studies have investigated the regulatory pathways of TLRs that are essential for modulating proinflammatory responses. These studies reported several pathways and molecules that act individually or in combination to regulate immune responses. In this review, we have summarized recent advancements in the elucidation of the negative regulation of TLR signaling. Moreover, this review covers the modulation of TLR signaling at multiple levels, including adaptor complex destabilization, phosphorylation and ubiquitin-mediated degradation of signal proteins, manipulation of other receptors, and transcriptional regulation. Lastly, synthetic inhibitors have also been briefly discussed to highlight negative regulatory approaches in the treatment of inflammatory diseases.
PMCID: PMC3584666  PMID: 23429360
inflammatory diseases; inhibitors; innate immune system; miRNA; Toll-like receptors
18.  Toll-like receptors in autoimmunity with special reference to systemic lupus erythematosus 
Indian Journal of Human Genetics  2012;18(2):155-160.
The Toll-like receptor (TLR) family plays a fundamental role in host innate immunity by mounting a rapid and potent inflammatory response to pathogen infection. TLRs recognize distinct microbial components and activate intracellular signaling pathways that induce expression of host inflammatory genes. Several studies have indicated that TLRs are implicated in many inflammatory and immune disorders. Extensive research in the past decade to understand TLR-mediated mechanisms of innate immunity has enabled pharmaceutical companies to begin to develop novel therapeutics for the purpose of controlling an inflammatory disease. The roles of TLRs in the development of autoimmune diseases have been studied. TLR7 and TLR9 have key roles in production of autoantibodies and/or in development of systemic autoimmune disease. It remains to be determined their role in apoptosis, in the pathogenesis of RNA containing immune complexes, differential expression of TLRs by T regulatory cells.
PMCID: PMC3491286  PMID: 23162288
Toll-like receptors; autoimmunity; systemic lupus erythematosus
19.  Toll-like receptors: a family of pattern-recognition receptors in mammals 
Genome Biology  2002;3(8):reviews3011.1-reviews3011.6.
Toll-like receptors are a family of pattern-recognition receptors in mammals that can discriminate between chemically diverse classes of microbial products, including bacterial cell-wall components, and that can elicit pathogen-specific cellular immune responses. Toll-like receptors share characteristic features with the interleukin-1 and interleukin-18 cytokine receptors and these receptor classes activate similar signal-transduction pathways.
The innate immune system uses a variety of germline-encoded pattern-recognition receptors that recognize conserved microbial structures or pathogen-associated molecular patterns, such as those that occur in the bacterial cell-wall components peptidoglycan and lipopolysaccharide. Recent studies have highlighted the importance of Toll-like receptors (TLRs) as a family of pattern-recognition receptors in mammals that can discriminate between chemically diverse classes of microbial products. First identified on the basis of sequence similarity with the Drosophila protein Toll, TLRs are members of an ancient superfamily of proteins, which includes related proteins in invertebrates and plants. TLRs activate innate immune defense reactions, such as the release of inflammatory cytokines, but increasing evidence supports an additional critical role for TLRs in orchestrating the development of adaptive immune responses. The sequence similarity between the intracellular domains of the TLRs and the mammalian interleukin-1 and interleukin-18 cytokine receptors reflects the use of a common intracellular signal-transduction cascade triggered by these receptor classes. But more recent findings have demonstrated that there are in fact TLR-specific signaling pathways and cellular responses. Thus, TLRs function as sentinels of the mammalian immune system that can discriminate between diverse pathogen-associated molecular patterns and then elicit pathogen-specific cellular immune responses.
PMCID: PMC139401  PMID: 12186654
20.  The role of endoplasmic reticulum stress in maintaining and targeting multiple myeloma: a double-edged sword of adaptation and apoptosis 
Frontiers in Genetics  2013;4:109.
Increased cellular protein production places stress on the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), because many of the nascent proteins pass through the ER for folding and trafficking. Accumulation of misfolded proteins in the ER triggers the activation of three well-known pathways including IRE1 (inositol requiring kinase 1), ATF6 (activating transcription factor 6), and PERK (double stranded RNA-activated protein kinase-like ER kinase). The activity of each sensor modulates the overall ER strategy for managing protein quality control as cellular needs change due to growth, differentiation, infection, transformation, and host of other possible physiological states. Here we review the role of ER stress in multiple myeloma (MM), an incurable plasma cell neoplasm. MM is closely linked to dysregulated unfolded protein response in the ER due to the heightened production of immunoglobulin and the metabolic demands of malignant uncontrolled proliferation. Together, these forces may mean that myeloma cells have an “Achilles heel” which can be exploited as a treatment target: their ER stress response must be constitutively active at a remarkably high level to survive their unique metabolic needs. Therefore, inhibition of the ER stress response is likely to injure the cells, as is any further demand on an already over-worked system. Evidence for this vulnerability is summarized here, along with an overview of how each of the three ER stress sensors has been implicated in myeloma pathogenesis and treatment.
PMCID: PMC3678081  PMID: 23781234
endoplasmic reticulum; unfolded protein response; multiple myeloma; ER stress; apoptosis
21.  c-Jun N-Terminal Kinase in Inflammation and Rheumatic Diseases 
The c-Jun N-terminal kinases (JNKs) are members of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) family and are activated by environmental stress. JNK is also activated by proinflammatory cytokines, such as TNF and IL-1, and Toll-like receptor ligands. This pathway, therefore, can act as a critical convergence point in immune system signaling for both adaptive and innate responses. Like other MAPKs, the JNKs are activated via the sequential activation of protein kinases that includes two dual-specificity MAP kinase kinases (MKK4 and MKK7) and multiple MAP kinase kinase kinases. MAPKs, including JNKs, can be deactivated by a specialized group of phosphatases, called MAP kinase phosphatases. JNK phosphorylates and regulates the activity of transcription factors other than c-Jun, including ATF2, Elk-1, p53 and c-Myc and non-transcription factors, such as members of the Bcl-2 family. The pathway plays a critical role in cell proliferation, apoptosis, angiogenesis and migration. In this review, an overview of the functions that are related to rheumatic diseases is presented. In addition, some diseases in which JNK participates will be highlighted.
PMCID: PMC3460413  PMID: 23028407
Signal transduction; inflammation; autoimmunity; rheumatoid arthritis.
22.  The Transcription Factor C/EBP delta Has Anti-Apoptotic and Anti-Inflammatory Roles in Pancreatic Beta Cells 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e31062.
In the course of Type 1 diabetes pro-inflammatory cytokines (e.g., IL-1β, IFN-γ and TNF-α) produced by islet-infiltrating immune cells modify expression of key gene networks in β-cells, leading to local inflammation and β-cell apoptosis. Most known cytokine-induced transcription factors have pro-apoptotic effects, and little is known regarding “protective” transcription factors. To this end, we presently evaluated the role of the transcription factor CCAAT/enhancer binding protein delta (C/EBPδ) on β-cell apoptosis and production of inflammatory mediators in the rat insulinoma INS-1E cells, in purified primary rat β-cells and in human islets. C/EBPδ is expressed and up-regulated in response to the cytokines IL-1β and IFN-γ in rat β-cells and human islets. Small interfering RNA-mediated C/EBPδ silencing exacerbated IL-1β+IFN-γ-induced caspase 9 and 3 cleavage and apoptosis in these cells. C/EBPδ deficiency increased the up-regulation of the transcription factor CHOP in response to cytokines, enhancing expression of the pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 family member BIM. Interfering with C/EBPδ and CHOP or C/EBPδ and BIM in double knockdown approaches abrogated the exacerbating effects of C/EBPδ deficiency on cytokine-induced β-cell apoptosis, while C/EBPδ overexpression inhibited BIM expression and partially protected β-cells against IL-1β+IFN-γ-induced apoptosis. Furthermore, C/EBPδ silencing boosted cytokine-induced production of the chemokines CXCL1, 9, 10 and CCL20 in β-cells by hampering IRF-1 up-regulation and increasing STAT1 activation in response to cytokines. These observations identify a novel function of C/EBPδ as a modulatory transcription factor that inhibits the pro-apoptotic and pro-inflammatory gene networks activated by cytokines in pancreatic β-cells.
PMCID: PMC3275575  PMID: 22347430
23.  TIR8/SIGIRR is an Interleukin-1 Receptor/Toll Like Receptor Family Member with Regulatory Functions in Inflammation and Immunity 
Interleukin-1R like receptors (ILRs) and Toll Like Receptors (TLRs) are key receptors of innate immunity, inflammation, and orientation of the adaptive response. They belong to a superfamily characterized by the presence of a conserved intracellular domain, the Toll/IL-1R (TIR) domain, which is involved in the activation of a signaling cascade leading to activation of transcription factors associated to inflammation. The activation of inflammatory responses and immunity by ILRs or TLRs signaling is potentially detrimental for the host in acute and chronic conditions and is tightly regulated at different levels by receptor antagonists, decoy receptors or signaling molecules, and miRNAs. Recent evidence suggests that the ILRs family member TIR8 (also known as SIGIRR) is a regulatory protein acting intracellularly to inhibit ILRs and TLRs signaling. In particular, current evidence suggests that TIR8/SIGIRR dampens TLRs-mediated activation and inhibits signaling receptor complexes of IL-1 family members associated with Th1 (IL-18), Th2 (IL-33), and Th17 (IL-1) differentiation. Studies with Tir8/Sigirr-deficient mice showed that the ability to dampen signaling from ILRs and TLRs family members makes TIR8/SIGIRR a key regulator of inflammation. Here, we summarize our current understanding of the structure and function of TIR8/SIGIRR, focusing on its role in different pathological conditions, ranging from infectious and sterile inflammation, to autoimmunity and cancer-related inflammation.
PMCID: PMC3482685  PMID: 23112799
cytokine; interleukin-1; toll like receptors; inflammation; infection; inflammation-associated cancer
24.  Innate Signaling in Otitis Media: Pathogenesis and Recovery 
Otitis media (OM) is the most prevalent childhood disease in developed countries. Involvement of innate immunity mediated by Toll-like receptors (TLRs) in OM has been implicated primarily in cell lines and by association studies of innate immune gene polymorphisms with OM prevalence. However, the precise role of innate immunity in OM is incompletely understood. We review recent research that has advanced our understanding of how innate immunity in the middle ear is mediated by the interaction of pathogen molecules with receptors such as the TLRs, leading to the activation of adaptor molecules and production of proinflammatory cytokines. TLR genes and signaling molecules are upregulated in OM in a murine model. Deletion of several key innate immune genes results in persistent OM in mice, coupled with an inability to clear bacterial infection from the middle ear. It is concluded that an intact innate immune signaling system is critical to recovery from bacterial OM.
PMCID: PMC3020300  PMID: 21049294
Pathogenesis; Innate immunity; Otitis media; TLR; TNF
25.  Reciprocal regulation of p63 by C/EBP delta in human keratinocytes 
Genetic experiments have clarified that p63 is a key transcription factor governing the establishment and maintenance of multilayered epithelia. Key to our understanding of p63 strategy is the identification of target genes. We perfomed an RNAi screening in keratinocytes for p63, followed by profiling analysis.
C/EBPδ, member of a family with known roles in differentiation pathways, emerged as a gene repressed by p63. We validated C/EBPδ as a primary target of ΔNp63α by RT-PCR and ChIP location analysis in HaCaT and primary cells. C/EBPδ is differentially expressed in stratification of human skin and it is up-regulated upon differentiation of HaCaT and primary keratinocytes. It is bound to and activates the ΔNp63 promoter. Overexpression of C/EBPδ leads to alteration in the normal profile of p63 isoforms, with the emergence of ΔNp63β and γ, and of the TA isoforms, with different kinetics. In addition, there are changes in the expression of most p63 targets. Inactivation of C/EBPδ leads to gene expression modifications, in part due to the concomitant repression of ΔNp63α. Finally, C/EBPδ is found on the p63 targets in vivo by ChIP analysis, indicating that coregulation is direct.
Our data highlight a coherent cross-talk between these two transcription factors in keratinocytes and a large sharing of common transcriptional targets.
PMCID: PMC2148061  PMID: 17903252

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