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Mol Cell Biol. 2001 Feb;21(3):771-80.

Dexamethasone destabilizes cyclooxygenase 2 mRNA by inhibiting mitogen-activated protein kinase p38.

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  • 1Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology Division, Imperial College School of Medicine, Hammersmith, London W6 8LH, United Kingdom.


The stability of cyclooxygenase 2 (Cox-2) mRNA is regulated positively by proinflammatory stimuli acting through mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) p38 and negatively by anti-inflammatory glucocorticoids such as dexamethasone. A tetracycline-regulated reporter system was used to investigate mechanisms of regulation of Cox-2 mRNA stability. Dexamethasone was found to destabilize beta-globin-Cox-2 reporter mRNAs by inhibiting p38. This inhibition occurred at the level of p38 itself: stabilization of reporter mRNA by a kinase upstream of p38 was blocked by dexamethasone, while stabilization by a kinase downstream of p38 was insensitive to dexamethasone. Inhibition of p38 activity by dexamethasone was observed in a variety of cell types treated with different activating stimuli. Furthermore, inhibition of p38 was antagonized by the anti-glucocorticoid RU486 and was delayed and actinomycin D sensitive, suggesting that ongoing glucocorticoid receptor-dependent transcription is required.

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