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J Biol Chem. 2002 Oct 11;277(41):38254-61. Epub 2002 Aug 2.

p38 Mitogen-activated protein kinase regulates interleukin-4-induced gene expression by stimulating STAT6-mediated transcription.

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  • 1Institute of Medical Technology, University of Tampere, FIN-33014 Tampere, Finland.


STAT6 functions as a critical mediator of IL-4-stimulated gene activation, and the function of STAT6 is regulated by both tyrosine and serine kinase activities. Here we analyzed the role of serine phosphorylation in regulation of STAT6-mediated transcription. Optimal transcriptional response of IL-4-inducible promoters requires costimulatory signals through CD40-stimulated intracellular kinases such as p38 MAPK. We found that the p38 MAPK inhibitor SB202190 as well as the dominant negative p38 MAPK inhibited interleukin (IL)-4 regulated expression of CD23 in Ramos B cells. IL-4 stimulation did not stimulate p38 MAPK activity, but inhibition of p38 MAPK activity directly correlated with inhibition of IL-4-induced gene activation. Dissection of individual response elements on IL-4-regulated promoter showed that C/EBP beta-mediated transcription was insensitive to SB202190 treatment in B cells whereas STAT6-mediated transcription was regulated by p38 MAPK. The IL-4-induced immediate activation events of STAT6 were not affected by p38 MAPK activity. Furthermore, phosphoamino acid analysis and phosphopeptide mapping indicated that STAT6 is not a direct substrate for p38 MAPK. Instead, p38 MAPK was found to directly regulate the activity of the transactivation domain of STAT6. These results show that, in addition to the well established proinflammatory effects, p38 MAPK also provides a costimulatory signal for IL-4-induced gene responses by directly stimulating the transcriptional activation of STAT6.

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