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J Biol Chem. 2000 Mar 3;275(9):6259-66.

Transcriptional activation of the cyclooxygenase-2 gene in endotoxin-treated RAW 264.7 macrophages.

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Molecular Biology Institute, UCLA, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA.


Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), the enzyme primarily responsible for induced prostaglandin synthesis, is an immediate early gene induced by endotoxin in macrophages. We investigated the cis-acting elements of the COX-2 5'-flanking sequence, the transcription factors and signaling pathways responsible for transcriptional activation of the COX-2 gene in endotoxin-treated murine RAW 264.7 macrophages. Luciferase reporter constructs with alterations in presumptive cis-acting transcriptional regulatory elements demonstrate that the cyclic AMP-response element and two nuclear factor interleukin-6 (CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein (C/EBP)) sites of the COX-2 promoter are required for optimal endotoxin-dependent induction. In contrast, the E-box and NF-kappaB sites are not required for endotoxin-dependent induction. Inhibition of endotoxin-induced NF-kappaB activation by expression of an inhibitor-kappaB alpha mutant does not block endotoxin-dependent COX-2 reporter activity. Overexpression of c-Jun, C/EBPbeta, and C/EBPdelta enhances induction of the COX-2 reporter, while overexpression of cyclic AMP-response element-binding protein or "dominant negative" C/EBPbeta represses COX-2 induction. In addition, endotoxin rapidly and transiently elicits c-Jun phosphorylation in RAW 264.7 macrophages. Cotransfection of the COX-2 reporter with dominant negative expression vectors shows that endotoxin-induced COX-2 gene expression requires signaling through a Ras-independent pathway involving the adapter protein ECSIT and the signaling kinases MEKK1 and JNK. In contrast, endotoxin-induced COX-2 reporter activity is not blocked by overexpression of dominant-negative forms of Raf-1, ERK1, or ERK2.

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