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Shock. 2004 Jul;22(1):57-62.

Toll-like receptor 4 coupled GI protein signaling pathways regulate extracellular signal-regulated kinase phosphorylation and AP-1 activation independent of NFkappaB activation.

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  • 1Department of Physiology and Neuroscience, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina 29425, USA.


Previous studies have implicated heterotrimeric Gi proteins in signaling leading to inflammatory mediator production induced by lipopolysaccharide (LPS). TLR4 has recently been shown to play a central role in response to LPS activation. We hypothesized that Gi proteins are coupled to TLR4 activation of signaling pathways. To inhibit Gi protein function, human embryonic kidney (HEK) 293 cells or RAW 264.7 cells were pretreated with pertussis toxin (PTx), an inhibitor of receptor-Galphai interaction, or transfected with dominant negative Galphai3 (Galphai3dn) or Galphai2 minigene (an inhibitory carboxyl terminus of Galphai2) plasmid. The cells were subsequently transfected with constitutively active TLR4 (TLR4ca) plasmid or TLR4ca together with an NFkappaB or AP-1 reporter construct. TLR4ca transfection induced ERK 1/2 activation (157 +/- 14%, P < 0.01), AP-1 activation (4.0 +/- 0.2-fold, P < 0.01), and NFkappaB activation (8.1 +/- 0.4-fold, P < 0.01) compared with empty vector controls. Pretreatment with PTx inhibited TLR4ca-induced ERK 1/2 phosphorylation (30 +/- 7%, P < 0.05) and AP-1 activation (36 +/- 3%, P < 0.05) but did not inhibit NFkappaB activation. Cotransfection of TLR4ca with Galphai3dn or Galphai2 minigene also reduced TLR4ca-induced ERK 1/2 phosphorylation (34 +/- 10% and 33 +/- 5%, respectively, P < 0.05). Constitutively active Galphai2 and Galphai3 plasmids potentiated TLR4ca-induced ERK 1/2 phosphorylation (27 +/- 3% and 41 +/- 6%, respectively, P < 0.05). betaARK-ct plasmid, which inhibits the function of betagamma subunit of G protein, has no effect on TLR4ca-induced ERK 1/2 phosphorylation. These data support our hypothesis and provide the first evidence that Galphai-coupled signaling pathways are activated by TLR4. The TLR4-activated Galphai signaling pathway activates ERK 1/2 phosphorylation and AP-1 activation independently of TLR4-mediated signaling to NFkappaB activation.

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