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J Leukoc Biol. 2009 May;85(5):804-16. doi: 10.1189/jlb.0908561. Epub 2009 Feb 19.

M. bovis BCG induced expression of COX-2 involves nitric oxide-dependent and -independent signaling pathways.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Cell Biology, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore 560012, India.


In a multifaceted immunity to mycobacterial infection, induced expression of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) by Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) may act as an important influencing factor for the effective host immunity. We here demonstrate that M. bovis BCG-triggered TLR2-dependent signaling leads to COX-2 and PGE2 expression in vitro in macrophages and in vivo in mice. Further, the presence of PGE2 could be demonstrated in sera or cerebrospinal fluid of tuberculosis patients. The induced COX-2 expression in macrophages is dependent on NF-kappaB activation, which is mediated by inducible NO synthase (iNOS)/NO-dependent participation of the members of Notch1-PI-3K signaling cascades as well as iNOS-independent activation of ERK1/2 and p38 MAPKs. Inhibition of iNOS activity abrogated the M. bovis BCG ability to trigger the generation of Notch1 intracellular domain (NICD), a marker for Notch1 signaling activation, as well as activation of the PI-3K signaling cascade. On the contrary, treatment of macrophages with 3-morpholinosydnonimine, a NO donor, resulted in a rapid increase in generation of NICD, activation of PI-3K pathway, as well as the expression of COX-2. Stable expression of NICD in RAW 264.7 macrophages resulted in augmented expression of COX-2. Further, signaling perturbations suggested the involvement of the cross-talk of Notch1 with members with the PI-3K signaling cascade. These results implicate the dichotomous nature of TLR2 signaling during M. bovis BCG-triggered expression of COX-2. In this perspective, we propose the involvement of iNOS/NO as one of the obligatory, early, proximal signaling events during M. bovis BCG-induced COX-2 expression in macrophages.

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