Interferons (IFNs) are cytokines with pronounced proinflammatory properties. Here we provide evidence that IFNs play a key role also in decline of inflammation by inducing expression of tristetraprolin (TTP). TTP is an RNA-binding protein that destabilizes several AU-rich element-containing mRNAs including TNFα. By promoting mRNA decay TTP significantly contributes to cytokine homeostasis. Now we report that IFNs strongly stimulate expression of TTP if a co-stimulatory stress signal is provided. IFN-induced expression of TTP depends on the IFN-activated transcription factor STAT1, and the co-stimulatory stress signal requires p38 MAPK. Within the TTP promoter we have identified a functional gamma interferon-activated sequence that recruits STAT1. Consistently, STAT1 is required for full expression of TTP in response to LPS that stimulates both p38 MAPK and, indirectly, interferon signaling. We demonstrate that in macrophages IFN-induced TTP protein limits LPS-stimulated expression of several proinflammatory genes such as TNFα, IL-6, Ccl2 and Ccl3. Thus, our findings establish a link between interferon responses and TTP-mediated mRNA decay during inflammation, and propose a novel immunomodulatory role of IFNs.
Immunobiology; innate immunity; monocyte and macrophage biology
Tristetraprolin/zinc finger protein 36 (TTP/ZFP36) binds and destabilizes some proinflammatory cytokine mRNAs. TTP-deficient mice develop a profound inflammatory syndrome due to excessive production of proinflammatory cytokines. TTP gene expression is induced by various factors including insulin, cinnamon, and green tea extracts. Previous studies have shown that TTP is highly phosphorylated in vivo and multiple phosphorylation sites are identified in human TTP. This study evaluated the potential protein kinases that could phosphorylate recombinant TTP in vitro. Motif scanning suggested that TTP was a potential substrate for various kinases. SDS-PAGE showed that in vitro phosphorylation of TTP with p42 and p38 MAP kinases resulted in visible electrophoretic mobility shift of TTP to higher molecular masses. Autoradiography showed that TTP was phosphorylated in vitro by GSK3b, PKA, PKB, PKC, but not Cdc2, in addition to p42, p38, and JNK. These results demonstrate that TTP is a substrate for a number of protein kinases in vitro.
Glycogen synthase kinase 3b; Inflammation; Phosphorylation; Protein kinase; Recombinant protein; Tristetraprolin; Zinc finger protein
In activated macrophages, the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 inhibits expression of molecules that propagate inflammation in a manner that depends on transcription factor STAT3. Expression of IL-10 is regulated post-transcriptionally by the RNA-binding protein tristetraprolin (TTP), which destabilizes IL-10 mRNA in activated macrophages. Using LPS-activated bone marrow-derived murine macrophages, we demonstrate that TTP is a negative regulator of the IL-10/STAT3 anti-inflammatory response. LPS-stimulated TTP-deficient macrophages overproduced IL-10, contained increased amounts of activated STAT3, and showed reduced expression of inflammatory cytokines, including cytokines encoded by TTP-target mRNAs. Thus, in LPS-stimulated TTP-deficient macrophages, increased IL-10/STAT3 anti-inflammatory control was dominant over the mRNA-stabilization of specific TTP targets. The TTP gene promoter contains a conserved STAT3 binding site and IL-10 induces STAT3 recruitment to this site. Correspondingly, STAT3 was required for efficient IL-10-induced TTP expression. Hence, by inducing TTP expression, STAT3 activates a negative regulatory loop that controls the IL-10/STAT3 anti-inflammatory response.
Tristetraprolin (TTP) is an mRNA destabilizing protein that binds to AU-rich elements in labile transcripts, such as the mRNA encoding tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF), and promotes their deadenylation and degradation. TTP-deficient (KO) mice exhibit an early-onset, severe inflammatory phenotype, with cachexia, erosive arthritis, left-sided cardiac valvulitis, myeloid hyperplasia, and autoimmunity, which can be prevented by injections of anti-TNF antibodies, or interbreeding with TNF receptor-deficient mice. To determine whether the excess TNF that causes the TTP KO phenotype is produced by myeloid cells, we performed myeloid-specific disruption of Zfp36, the gene encoding TTP. We documented the lack of TTP expression in lipopolysaccharide-stimulated bone marrow-derived macrophages from the mice, whereas fibroblasts expressed TTP mRNA and protein normally in response to serum. The mice exhibited a minimal phenotype, characterized by slight slowing of weight gain late in the first year of life, compared to the early onset, severe weight loss and inflammation seen in the TTP KO mice. Instead, the myeloid-specific TTP KO mice were highly and abnormally susceptible to a low dose lipopolysaccharide challenge, with rapid development of typical endotoxemia signs and extensive organ damage, and elevations of serum TNF levels to 110-fold greater than control. We conclude that myeloid-specific TTP deficiency does not phenocopy complete TTP deficiency in C57BL/6 mice under normal laboratory conditions, implying contributions from other cell types to the complete phenotype. However, myeloid cell TTP plays a critical role in protecting mice against LPS-induced septic shock, primarily through its post-transcriptional regulation of TNF mRNA stability.
Tristetraprolin; Tumor necrosis factor-alpha; FLOXed TTP mouse; LysMcre; Myeloid-specific TTP deficiency; Bone marrow-derived macrophages; Endotoxemia
Glucocorticoids (GCs) are the mainstay of anti-inflammatory therapy. Modulation of post-transcriptional regulation (PTR) of gene expression by GCs is a relevant yet poorly characterized mechanism of their action. The RNA-binding protein tristetraprolin (TTP) plays a central role in PTR by binding to AU-rich elements in the 3’untranslated region of proinflammatory transcripts and accelerating their decay. We found that GCs induce TTP expression in primary and immortalized human bronchial epithelial cells. To investigate the importance of PTR and the role of TTP in GC function, we compared the effect of GC treatment on genome-wide gene expression using mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) obtained from wild-type and TTP−/− mice. We confirmed that GCs induce TTP in MEFs and observed in TTP−/− MEFs a striking loss of up to 85% of GC-mediated gene expression. Gene regulation by TNF-α was similarly affected, as was the antagonistic effect of GC on TNF-α-induced response. Inflammatory genes, including cytokines and chemokines, were among the genes whose sensitivity to GCs was affected by lack of TTP. Silencing of TTP in WT MEFs by siRNAconfirmed loss of GC response in selected targets. Immunoprecipitation of ribonucleoprotein complexes revealed binding of TTP to several validated transcripts. Changes in the rate of transcript degradation studied by Actinomycin D were documented for only a subset of transcripts bound to TTP. These results reveal a strong and previously unrecognized contribution of PTR to the anti-inflammatory action of GCs and point at TTP as a key factor mediating this process through a complex mechanism of action.
Inflammation; glucocorticoids; posttranscriptional gene regulation; chemokines
Myc oncoproteins directly regulate transcription by binding to target genes, yet this only explains a fraction of the genes affected by Myc. mRNA turnover is controlled via AU-binding proteins (AUBPs) that recognize AU-rich elements (AREs) found within many transcripts. Analyses of precancerous and malignant Myc-expressing B cells revealed that Myc regulates hundreds of ARE-containing (ARED) genes and select AUBPs. Notably, Myc directly suppresses transcription of Tristetraprolin (TTP/ZFP36), an mRNA-destabilizing AUBP, and this circuit is also operational during B lymphopoiesis and IL7 signaling. Importantly, TTP suppression is a hallmark of cancers with MYC involvement, and restoring TTP impairs Myc-induced lymphomagenesis and abolishes maintenance of the malignant state. Further, there is a selection for TTP loss in malignancy; thus, TTP functions as a tumor suppressor. Finally, Myc/TTP-directed control of select cancer-associated ARED genes is disabled during lymphomagenesis. Thus, Myc targets AUBPs to regulate ARED genes that control tumorigenesis.
Tristetraprolin (TTP) is a AU-rich element (ARE) binding protein and exhibits suppressive effects on cell growth through down-regulation of ARE-containing oncogenes. The let-7 microRNA has emerged as a significant factor in tumor suppression. Both TTP and let-7 are often repressed in human cancers, thereby promoting oncogenesis by derepressing their target genes. In this work, an unexpected link between TTP and let-7 has been found in human cancer cells. TTP promotes an increase in expression of mature let-7, which leads to the inhibition of let-7 target gene CDC34 expression and suppresses cell growth. This event is associated with TTP-mediated inhibition of Lin28, which has emerged as a negative modulator of let-7. Lin28 mRNA contains ARE within its 3′-UTR and TTP enhances the decay of Lin28 mRNA through binding to its 3′-UTR. This suggests that the TTP-mediated down-regulation of Lin28 plays a key role in let-7 miRNA biogenesis in cancer cells.
Tumor derived cytokines play a significant role in the progression of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Targeting proteins, such as tristetraprolin (TTP), that regulate multiple inflammatory cytokines, may inhibit HNSCC progression; however, its role in cancer is poorly understood. The goal of this study was to determine if TTP regulates inflammatory cytokines in HNSCC.
TTP mRNA and protein expression were determined by quantitative RT-PCR and western blot, respectively. mRNA stability and cytokine secretion were evaluated by quantitative RT-PCR and ELISA, respectively, after overexpression or knockdown of TTP in HNSCC. HNSCC tissue microarrays were immunostained for IL-6 and TTP.
TTP expression in HNSCC cell lines was inversely correlated with secretion of IL-6, VEGF and PGE2. Knockdown of TTP increased mRNA stability and secretion of cytokines. Conversely, overexpression of TTP in HNSCC cells led to decreased secretion of IL-6, VEGF and PGE2. Immunohistochemical staining of tissue microarrays for IL-6 demonstrated that staining intensity is prognostic for poor disease-specific survival (p=0.023), tumor recurrence and second primary tumors (p=0.014), and poor overall survival (p=0.019).
Our findings show that downregulation of TTP in HNSCC enhances mRNA stability and promotes secretion of IL-6, VEGF and PGE2. Furthermore, high IL-6 in HNSCC tissue is a biomarker for poor prognosis. In as much as enhanced cytokine secretion is associated with poor prognosis, TTP may be a therapeutic target to reduce multiple cytokines concurrently in HNSCC.
cytokines; IL-6; VEGF
Glucocorticoids are used to treat various inflammatory disorders, but the mechanisms underlying these actions are incompletely understood. The zinc finger protein tristetraprolin (TTP) destabilizes several proinflammatory cytokine mRNAs by binding to AU-rich elements within their 3′ untranslated regions, targeting them for degradation. Here we report that glucocorticoids induce the synthesis of TTP mRNA and protein in A549 lung epithelial cells and in rat tissues. Dexamethasone treatment leads to a sustained induction of TTP mRNA expression that is abrogated by RU486. Glucocorticoid induction of TTP mRNA is also blocked by actinomycin D but not by cycloheximide, suggesting a transcriptional mechanism which has been confirmed by transcription run-on experiments. The most widely characterized TTP-regulated gene is the AU-rich tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) gene. Dexamethasone represses TNF-α mRNA in A549 cells and decreases luciferase expression of a TNF-α 3′ untranslated region reporter plasmid in an orientation-dependent manner. Small interfering RNAs to TTP significantly prevent this effect, and a cell line stably expressing a short-hairpin RNA to TTP conclusively establishes that TTP is critical for dexamethasone inhibition of TNF-α mRNA expression. These studies provide the molecular evidence for glucocorticoid regulation of human TTP and reflect a novel inductive anti-inflammatory signaling pathway for glucocorticoids that acts via posttranscriptional mechanisms.
mRNA turnover is a critical step in the control of gene expression. In mammalian cells, a subset of mRNAs regulated at the level of mRNA turnover contain destabilizing AU-rich elements (AREs) in their 3′ untranslated regions. These transcripts are bound by a suite of ARE-binding proteins (AUBPs) that receive information from cell signaling events to modulate rates of ARE mRNA decay. Here we show that a key destabilizing AUBP, tristetraprolin (TTP), is repressed by the p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)-activated kinase MK2 due to the inability of phospho-TTP to recruit deadenylases to target mRNAs. TTP is tightly associated with cytoplasmic deadenylases and promotes rapid deadenylation of target mRNAs both in vitro and in cells. TTP can direct the deadenylation of substrate mRNAs when tethered to a heterologous mRNA, yet its ability to do so is inhibited upon phosphorylation by MK2. Phospho-TTP is not impaired in mRNA binding but does fail to recruit the major cytoplasmic deadenylases. These observations suggest that phosphorylation of TTP by MK2 primarily affects mRNA decay downstream of RNA binding by preventing recruitment of the deadenylation machinery. Thus, TTP may remain poised to rapidly reactivate deadenylation of bound transcripts to downregulate gene expression once the p38 MAPK pathway is deactivated.
Signal transduction pathways regulate gene expression in part by modulating the stability of specific mRNAs. For example, the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) p38 pathway mediates stabilization of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) mRNA in myeloid cells stimulated with bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS). The zinc finger protein tristetraprolin (TTP) is expressed in response to LPS and regulates the stability of TNF-α mRNA. We show that stimulation of RAW264.7 mouse macrophages with LPS induces the binding of TTP to the TNF-α 3′ untranslated region. The p38 pathway is required for the induction of TNF-α RNA-binding activity and for the expression of TTP protein and mRNA. Following stimulation with LPS, TTP is expressed in multiple, differentially phosphorylated forms. We present evidence that phosphorylation of TTP is mediated by the p38-regulated kinase MAPKAPK2 (MAPK-activated protein kinase 2). Our findings demonstrate a direct link between a specific signal transduction pathway and a specific RNA-binding protein, both of which are known to regulate TNF-α gene expression at a posttranscriptional level.
Invasion is the critical step in progression of a pre-cancerous lesion to squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN). Invasion is regulated by multiple pro-inflammatory mediators. Tristetraprolin (TTP) is an mRNA degrading protein that regulates multiple pro-inflammatory mediators. TTP may serve as an excellent treatment target. Rap1 is a ras-like oncoprotein that induces critical signaling pathways. In this study, the role of rap1 in TTP-mediated invasion was investigated.
Using complementary approaches we modulated TTP and altered expression of IL-6 and MMP2/9, which were quantified by ELISA and zymogram. Invasion was evaluated in vitro using the Oral-Cancer-Equivalent (OCE) 3D model and in vivo in the chick chorioallantoic membrane (CAM). The role of rap1 and p38 were established using knockdown strategies.
Downregulation of TTP significantly increased invasion via secretion of MMP9/2 and IL-6. In the novel OCE and CAM invasion models of SCCHN, cells with downregulated TTP destroyed the basement membrane to invade the underlying connective tissue. Rap1 induces p38 mitogen activated protein kinase (p38)-mediated inactivation of TTP. Inactive TTP enhances transcript stability via binding to the 3′-UTR. High IL-6 and MMP9 are prognostic for poor clinical outcomes in SCCHN patients.
Targeting the rap1-p38-TTP cascade is an attractive novel treatment strategy in SCCHN to concurrently suppress multiple mediators of invasion.
cytokines; post-transcriptional regulation; 3′UTR; chick chorioallantoic membrane assay (CAM); oral cancer equivalent (OCE)
Tristetraprolin (TTP) is a well-characterized, zinc finger-containing, RNA-binding protein. TTP targets tumor necrosis factor α for degradation via the 3′ untranslated region (3′UTR). Although AU-rich elements (AREs) in the 3′UTR of interleukin-6 (IL-6) mRNA dictate mRNA degradation, the role of TTP in the post-transcriptional regulation of IL-6 gene expression is unclear. Here we used TTP-deficient mice to test the hypothesis that IL-6 expression is influenced by TTP. Genetic and siRNA-mediated knockdown of TTP resulted in increased IL-6 production and overexpression of TTP had the reverse effect. IL-6 and tumor necrosis factor α production were elevated after injection of IL-1β in TTP-deficient mice. Further, embryonic fibroblasts from these mice (mouse embryonic fibroblasts) exhibited greater IL-6 mRNA expression and longer half-life than wild-type mouse embryonic fibroblasts. Overexpression of TTP reduced IL-6 3′UTR luciferase reporter activity in an ARE-dependent manner. Proximal and distal regions of the 3′UTR acted synergistically to produce the full repression of TTP. Mutation-based luciferase assays show that ARE2, ARE3, and ARE4 are required for TTP-mediated repression. The constitutively activated p38-MK2 pathway abrogated TTP-mediated repression of IL-6 3′UTR reporter activity. RNA immunoprecipitation assay indicated that the deficiency of p38α resulted in the increased affinity of TTP to IL-6 mRNA. Taken together, we propose that TTP downregulates IL-6 gene expression at the post-transcriptional level by targeting ARE elements in the 3′UTR region.
Tristetraprolin (TTP or ZFP36) is a tandem CCCH zinc finger RNA binding protein that regulates the stability of certain AU-rich mRNAs. Recent work suggests that TTP is deficient in cancer cells when compared to normal cell types. Here we found that TTP expression was lower in invasive breast cancer cells (MDA-MB-231) compared to normal breast cell lines, MCF12A and MCF-10. TTP targets were probed using a novel approach by expressing the C124R zinc finger TTP mutant that act as dominant negative and increase target mRNA expression. In contrast to wt TTP, C124R TTP was able to increase certain ARE-mRNA expression in serum-stimulated breast cancer cells. Using an ARE-gene microarray, novel targets of TTP regulation were identified; urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA), uPA receptor, and matrix metallo-proteinase-1 (MMP1), all known to play prominent roles in breast cancer invasion and metastasis. Expression of these targets was upregulated in the tumorigenic types, particularly, the highly invasive MDA-MB-231. The mRNA half lives of these TTP-regulated genes were increased in TTP-knockout embryonic mouse fibroblasts as assessed by real time PCR while forced restoration of TTP by transfection led to a reduction of their mRNA levels. RNA immunoprecipitation confirmed an association of TTP, but not C124R, with these target transcripts. Moreover, TTP reduced, while the mutant C124R TTP increased, the activity of reporter constructs fused to target ARE. As a result of TTP regulation, invasiveness of MDAMB231 cells was reduced. The data suggest that TTP, in a 3′UTR- and ARE-dependent manner, regulates an important subset of cancer-related genes that are involved in cellular growth, invasion, and metastasis.
Post-transcriptional control; AU-rich elements; RNA binding proteins; RNA stability; Tristetraprolin
In inflammation, the post-transcriptional regulation of transiently expressed genes provides a potential therapeutic target. Tristetraprolin (TTP) is of the factors regulating decay of cytokine mRNAs. The aim of the present study was to identify cytokines whose expression is regulated by TTP. We established a TTP knock-down cell line by expressing shRNA against TTP (shTTP cell line). A cytokine antibody array was used to measure cytokine production in macrophages exposed to lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Cytokines IL-6, IL-12, TNF-α, and MIP-2 (a homologue to human IL-8) were expressed at higher
levels whereas MIP-3α was produced at lower levels in LPS-treated shTTP cells than in control cells suggesting that the expression of these cytokines is regulated by TTP. The present data provide IL-12, MIP-2, and MIP-3α as novel inflammatory cytokine targets for TTP-mediated mRNA decay and stress the role of TTP in the regulation of the inflammatory process.
Tristetraprolin (TTP/ZFP36) family proteins have anti-inflammatory activity by binding to and destabilizing pro-inflammatory mRNAs such as Tnf mRNA, and represent a potential therapeutic target for inflammation-related diseases. Tea has anti-inflammatory properties but the molecular mechanisms have not been completely elucidated. We hypothesized that TTP and/or its homologues might contribute to the beneficial effects of tea as an anti-inflammatory product.
Quantitative real-time PCR was used to investigate the effects of green tea (0, 1, and 2 g solid extract/kg diet) on the expression of Ttp family genes (Ttp/Tis11/Zfp36, Zfp36l1/Tis11b, Zfp36l2/Tis11d, Zfp36l3), pro-inflammatory genes (Tnf, Csf2/Gm-csf, Ptgs2/Cox2), and Elavl1/Hua/Hur and Vegf genes in liver and muscle of rats fed a high-fructose diet known to induce insulin resistance, oxidative stress, inflammation, and TNF-alpha levels.
Ttp and Zfp36l1 mRNAs were the major forms in both liver and skeletal muscle. Ttp, Zfp36l1, and Zfp36l2 mRNA levels were more abundant in the liver than those in the muscle. Csf2/Gm-csf and Zfp36l3 mRNAs were undetectable in both tissues. Tea (1 g solid extract/kg diet) increased Ttp mRNA levels by 50–140% but Tnf mRNA levels decreased by 30% in both tissues, and Ptgs2/Cox2 mRNA levels decreased by 40% in the muscle. Tea (2 g solid extract/kg diet) increased Elavl1/Hua/Hur mRNA levels by 40% in the liver but did not affect any of the other mRNA levels in liver or muscle.
These results show that tea can modulate Ttp mRNA levels in animals and suggest that a post-transcriptional mechanism through TTP could partially account for tea's anti-inflammatory properties. The results also suggest that drinking adequate amounts of green tea may play a role in the prevention of inflammation-related diseases.
Many proinflammatory cytokines contain adenylate-uridylate-rich elements (AREs) within the 3′-untranslated region (UTR) that confer rapid mRNA destabilization. During the inflammatory response, cytokine mRNA are stabilized via complex interactions with RNA-binding proteins controlled by phosphorylation via multiple signaling pathways including the mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs). In the absence of inflammation, a key cytokine-regulating RNA-binding protein, tristetraprolin (TTP), shuttles mRNA transcripts to degradation machinery in order to maintain low levels of inflammatory cytokines. Using this general model of mRNA decay, over expression of TTP was evaluated in an experimental model of inflammatory bone loss to determine whether altering cytokine mRNA stability has an impact in pathological bone resorption. Using adenoviral-delivered TTP, significant reductions of interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), and prostaglandin (PG)E2 were observed in vitro through a mechanism consistent with targeting mRNA stability. In vivo analysis indicates a significant protective effect from inflammation-induced bone loss and inflammatory infiltrate in animals overexpressing TTP compared with reporter controls. These findings provide experimental evidence that mRNA stability is a valid therapeutic target in inflammatory bone loss.
The ternary complex factor (TCF) Elk-1 is a transcription factor that regulates immediate early gene (IEG) expression via the serum response element (SRE) DNA consensus site. Elk-1 is associated with a dimer of serum response factor (SRF) at the SRE site, and its phosphorylation occurs at specific residues in response to mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs), including c-Jun-N terminal kinase (JNK), p38/MAPK, and extracellular-signal regulated kinase (ERK). This phosphorylation event is critical for triggering SRE-dependent transcription. Although MAPKs are fundamental actors for the instatement and maintenance of memory, and much investigation of their downstream signaling partners have been conducted, no data yet clearly implicate Elk-1 in these processes. This is partly due to the complexity of Elk-1 sub-cellular localization, and hence functions, within neurons. Elk-1 is present in its resting state in the cytoplasm, where it colocalizes with mitochondrial proteins or microtubules. In this particular sub-cellular compartment, overexpression of Elk-1 is toxic for neuronal cells. When phosphorylated by the MAPK/ERK, Elk-1 translocates to the nucleus where it is implicated in regulating chromatin remodeling, SRE-dependent transcription, and neuronal differentiation. Another post-translational modification is the conjugation to SUMO (Small Ubiquitin-like MOdifier), which relocalizes Elk-1 in the cytoplasm. Thus, Elk-1 plays a dual role in neuronal functions: pro-apoptotic within the cytoplasm, and pro-differentiation within the nucleus. To address the role of Elk-1 in the brain, one must be aware of its multiple facets, and design molecular tools that will shut down Elk-1 expression, trafficking, or activation, in specific neuronal compartments. We summarize in this review the known molecular functions of Elk-1, its regulation in neuronal cells, and present evidence of its possible implication in model systems of synaptic plasticity, learning, but also in neurodegenerative diseases.
ERK signaling; gene regulation; chromatin remodeling; brain plasticity; memory formation; long-term neuronal adaptation; A
The p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathway, acting through the downstream kinase MK2, regulates the stability of many proinflammatory mRNAs that contain adenosine/uridine-rich elements (AREs). It is thought to do this by modulating the expression or activity of ARE-binding proteins that regulate mRNA turnover. MK2 phosphorylates the ARE-binding and mRNA-destabilizing protein tristetraprolin (TTP) at serines 52 and 178. Here we show that the p38 MAPK pathway regulates the subcellular localization and stability of TTP protein. A p38 MAPK inhibitor causes rapid dephosphorylation of TTP, relocalization from the cytoplasm to the nucleus, and degradation by the 20S/26S proteasome. Hence, continuous activity of the p38 MAPK pathway is required to maintain the phosphorylation status, cytoplasmic localization, and stability of TTP protein. The regulation of both subcellular localization and protein stability is dependent on MK2 and on the integrity of serines 52 and 178. Furthermore, the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) pathway synergizes with the p38 MAPK pathway to regulate both stability and localization of TTP. This effect is independent of kinases that are known to be synergistically activated by ERK and p38 MAPK. We present a model for the actions of TTP and the p38 MAPK pathway during distinct phases of the inflammatory response.
Zinc finger protein tristetraprolin (TTP) modulates macrophage inflammatory activity by destabilizing cytokine mRNAs. Here, through a screen of TTP-bound mRNAs in activated human macrophages, we have identified CC chemokine ligand 3 (CCL3) mRNA as the most abundantly bound TTP target mRNA and have characterized this interaction via conserved AU-rich elements. Compared to the wild-type cells, TTP−/− macrophages produced higher levels of LPS-induced CCL3. In addition, the plasma level of CCL3 in TTP−/− mice was markedly higher than that in wild-type mice. To determine the in vivo significance of TTP-regulated CCL3, we generated CCL3−/− TTP−/− double knockout mice. Along with decreased proinflammatory cytokines in their paw joints, there were significant functional and histologic improvements in the inflammatory arthritis of TTP−/− mice when CCL3 was absent although cachexia, reflecting systemic inflammation, was notably unaffected. Furthermore, the marked exacerbation of aortic plaque formation caused by TTP deficiency in the APOE−/− mouse model of atherosclerosis was also rescued by disrupting CCL3. Taken together, our data indicate that the interaction between TTP and CCL3 mRNA plays an important role in modulating localized inflammatory processes in tissues that are dissociated from the systemic manifestations of chronic inflammation.
Tristetraprolin (TTP) is an mRNA-binding protein, but studies of this interaction have been difficult due to problems with the purification of recombinant TTP. In the present study, we expressed human and mouse TTP as glutathione S-transferase and maltose-binding protein (MBP) fusion proteins in Escherichia coli, and purified them by affinity resins and Mono Q chromatography. TTP cleaved from the fusion protein was identified by immunoblotting, MALDI-MS, and protein sequencing, and was further purified to homogeneity by continuous-elution SDS–gel electrophoresis. Purified recombinant TTP bound to the AU-rich element of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα) mRNA and this binding was dependent on Zn2+. Results from sizing columns suggested that the active species might be in the form of an oligomer of MBP-TTP. Recombinant TTP was phosphorylated by three members of the mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase family, p42, p38, and JNK, with half-maximal phosphorylation occurring at approximately 0.5, 0.25, and 0.25 μM protein, respectively. Phosphorylation by these kinases did not appear to affect the ability of TTP to bind to TNFα mRNA under the assay conditions. This study describes a procedure for purifying nonfusion protein TTP to homogeneity, demonstrates that TTP's RNA-binding activity is zinc dependent, and that TTP can be phosphorylated by JNK as well as by the other members of the greater MAP kinase family.
Tristetraprolin; Tumor necrosis factor-α; Protein expression and purification; Protein phosphorylation; mRNA ARE-binding protein; Mitogen-activated protein kinase
Tristetraprolin (TTP) is a hyperphosphorylated protein that destabilizes mRNA by binding to an AU-rich element (ARE). Mice deficient in TTP develop a severe inflammatory syndrome. The biochemical properties of TTP have not been adequately characterized, due to the difficulties in protein purification and lack of a high-titer antiserum. Full-length human TTP was expressed in human HEK293 cells and purified to at least 70% homogeneity. The purified protein was free of endogenous ARE binding activity, and was used for investigating its size, zinc dependency, and binding kinetics for tumor necrosis factor α mRNA ARE. A high-titer rabbit antiserum was raised against the MBP–hTTP fusion protein expressed in Escherichia coli. Cellular localization studies of the transfected cells indicated that approximately 80% of the expressed TTP was in the cytosol, with 20% in the nuclei. TTP from both locations bound to the ARE and formed similar complexes. The purified TTP was shown to be intact by N-terminal His-tag purification, C-terminal peptide sequencing, and mass spectrometry analysis. Results from size exclusion chromatography are consistent with the predominant form of active TTP being a tetramer. TTP's ARE binding activity was increased by 10 μM Zn2+. The half-maximal binding of TTP from HEK293 cells was approximately 30 nM in assays containing 10 nM ARE. This value was about twice that of TTP from E. coli. TTP from HEK293 cells was highly phosphorylated, and its electrophoretic mobility was increased by alkaline phosphatase treatment and somewhat by T271A mutation, but not by PNGase F or S186A mutation. The gel mobility of TTP from E. coli was decreased by in vitro phosphorylation with p42/ERK2 and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinases. These results suggest that TTP's zinc-dependent ARE binding affinity is reduced by half by posttranslational modifications, mainly by phosphorylation but not by glycosylation, in mammalian cells. The results support a model in which each subunit of the TTP tetramer binds to one of the five overlapping UUAUUUAUU sequences of the ARE, resulting in a stable TTP–ARE complex.
Endogenous carbon monoxide (CO) exerts anti-inflammatory effects. Tristetraprolin (TTP) is known to destabilize pro-inflammatory transcripts. Here we found that exogenous CO enhanced the decay of TNF-α mRNA and suppressed TNF-α expression in LPS-activated macrophages from wild-type (WT) mice. However, TTP deficiency abrogated the effects of exogenous CO. While CO treatment prior to DSS administration in WT mice significantly reduced inflammatory cytokine levels and colitis, it failed to reduce the pro-inflammatory cytokine levels and colitis in TTP knockout (KO) mice. Our results demonstrate that TTP is a key factor mediating the anti-inflammatory action of CO in DSS-induced colitis.
The RNA-binding protein tristetraprolin (TTP) participates in normal post-transcriptional control of cytokine and chemokine gene expression, dysregulation of which contributes to the HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders. Transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation of TTP has been described, including regulation by microRNA-29a. In the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) model of HIV CNS disease, control of cytokine/chemokine expression coincides with the end of acute phase infection. This control is lost during progression to disease. In this study, we assessed TTP regulation and association with cytokine regulation in the brain during SIV infection.
Quantitation of TTP expression over the course of SIV infection revealed downregulation of TTP during acute infection, maintenance of relatively low levels during asymptomatic phase, and increased expression only during late-stage CNS disease, particularly in association with severe disease. The ability of miR-29a to regulate TTP was confirmed, and evidence for additional miRNA targeters of TTP was found. However, increased miR-29a expression in brain was not found to be significantly negatively correlated with TTP. Similarly, increased TTP during late-stage disease was not associated with lower cytokine expression.
TTP expression is regulated during SIV infection of the CNS. The lack of significant negative correlation of miR-29a and TTP expression levels suggests that while miR-29a may contribute to TTP regulation, additional factors are involved. Reduced TTP expression during acute infection is consistent with increased cytokine production during this phase of infection, but the increases in TTP observed during late-stage infection were insufficient to halt runaway cytokine levels. While antisense inhibitors of the post-transcriptional targeters of TTP identified here could conceivably be used further to augment TTP regulation of cytokines, it is possible that high levels of TTP are undesirable. Additional research is needed to characterize members of the miRNA/TTP/cytokine regulatory network and identify nodes that may be best targeted therapeutically to ameliorate the effects of chronic inflammation in retrovirus-associated CNS disease.
Cytokine; RNA-binding protein; Tristetraprolin; microRNA; Human immunodeficiency virus; HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder
The mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) p38/MAPK-activated protein kinase 2 (MK2) signaling pathway plays an important role in the posttranscriptional regulation of tumor necrosis factor (TNF), which is dependent on the adenine/uridine-rich element (ARE) in the 3′ untranslated region of TNF mRNA. After lipopolysaccharide (LPS) stimulation, MK2-deficient macrophages show a 90% reduction in TNF production compared to the wild type. Tristetraprolin (TTP), a protein induced by LPS, binds ARE and destabilizes TNF mRNA. Accordingly, macrophages lacking TTP produce large amounts of TNF. Here, we generated MK2/TTP double knockout mice and show that, after LPS stimulation, bone marrow-derived macrophages produce TNF mRNA and protein levels comparable to those of TTP knockout cells, indicating that in the regulation of TNF biosynthesis TTP is genetically downstream of MK2. In addition, we show that MK2 is essential for the stabilization of TTP mRNA, and phosphorylation by MK2 leads to increased TTP protein stability but reduced ARE affinity. These data suggest that MK2 inhibits the mRNA destabilizing activity of TTP and, in parallel, codegradation of TTP together, with the target mRNA resulting in increased cellular levels of TTP.