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J Immunol. 2003 Oct 15;171(8):4369-78.

Regulation of eotaxin gene expression by TNF-alpha and IL-4 through mRNA stabilization: involvement of the RNA-binding protein HuR.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.


During inflammatory responses, a major posttranscriptional regulation of early response and inflammatory gene expression occurs through modulation of mRNA turnover. We report that two potent inducers of the CC chemokine eotaxin, TNF-alpha and IL-4, regulate its production in airway epithelial cells by increasing eotaxin mRNA stability. In experiments using the transcriptional inhibitor actinomycin D, eotaxin mRNA half-life was significantly prolonged by cell stimulation with TNF-alpha or IL-4, with the combination of the two cytokines being the most effective in extending the mRNA half-life. Involvement of the eotaxin 3' untranslated region in the mRNA-stabilizing effect was tested by transient transfection of a construct expressing a chimeric transcript carrying a serum-inducible beta-globin reporter linked to the eotaxin 3' untranslated region. The half-life of the chimeric mRNA was markedly increased in cells stimulated with TNF-alpha and IL-4. Evidence that the mRNA-stabilizing protein HuR participated in the cytokine effect was obtained: first, HuR presence in the cytoplasm, believed to be required for HuR-mediated mRNA stabilization, increased in both transformed (BEAS-2B cell line) and primary bronchial epithelial cells following treatment with TNF-alpha and IL-4. Second, endogenous eotaxin mRNA was found to bind to HuR in vivo, as detected by immunoprecipitation of HuR-containing messenger ribonucleoprotein complexes followed by real-time RT-PCR analysis; such association increased after cell treatment with TNF-alpha and IL-4. Third, overexpression of HuR in BEAS-2B cells significantly increased the expression of eotaxin mRNA and protein. Our findings implicate mRNA stabilization in the cytokine-mediated increase in eotaxin expression and strongly suggest a role for HuR in this effect.

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