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Lab Invest. 2001 Jan;81(1):107-17.

Endocytosis of uncleaved tumor necrosis factor-alpha in macrophages.

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The Institute for Molecular Bioscience, The University of Queensland, Australia.


Activated monocytes and macrophages secrete the inflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha). TNF-alpha is produced as a 26 kd transmembrane protein that is cleaved to release a 17 kd soluble protein. TNF-alpha in both forms is biologically active. The intracellular trafficking of membrane-associated TNF-alpha in lipopolysaccharide-activated mouse macrophages was assessed after treatment with the metalloprotease inhibitor BB-3103, which prevents the cleavage of pro-TNF-alpha. Immunoprecipitation and immunofluorescence studies showed sustained expression of cell-associated TNF-alpha in the presence of the inhibitor. Cell immunoreactivity and surface biotinylation revealed that uncleaved TNF-alpha accumulated on the cell surface and was endocytosed, appearing in intracellular vesicles. Perturbation of post-Golgi traffic blocked the surface expression of 26 kd TNF-alpha. Tracking a bolus of TNF-alpha over time in cycloheximide-treated cells confirmed that uncleaved TNF-alpha is first transported to the cell surface and subsequently endocytosed. Vesicular structures immunoreactive for TNF-alpha were identified as endosomes by double labeling. The secretory and membrane-associated endocytic trafficking of TNF-alpha provides a mechanism for modulating the quantity of biologically active 26 kd TNF-alpha expressed on macrophages, allowing regulation of paracrine and autocrine responses.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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