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J Biol Chem. 2001 Jun 29;276(26):24414-21. Epub 2001 May 3.

JunD regulates transcription of the tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases-1 and interleukin-6 genes in activated hepatic stellate cells.

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Liver Group, Division of Infection, Inflammation, and Repair, University of Southampton, Southampton General Hospital, Southampton SO16 6YD, United Kingdom.


Activation of hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) to a myofibroblast-like phenotype is the pivotal event in hepatic wound healing and fibrosis. Rat HSCs activated in vitro express JunD, Fra2, and FosB as the predominant AP-1 DNA-binding proteins, and all three associate with an AP-1 sequence that is essential for activity of the tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases-1 (TIMP-1) promoter. In this study, we used expression vectors for wild-type, dominant-negative, and forced homodimeric (Jun/eb1 chimeric factors) forms of JunD and other Fos and Jun proteins to determine the requirement for JunD in the transcriptional regulation of the TIMP-1 and interleukin-6 (IL-6) genes. JunD activity was required for TIMP-1 gene promoter activity, whereas overexpression of Fra2 or FosB caused a repression of promoter activity. The ability of homodimeric JunD/eb1 to elevate TIMP-1 promoter activity supports a role for JunD homodimers as the major AP-1-dependent transactivators of the TIMP-1 gene. IL-6 promoter activity was induced upon activation of HSCs and also required JunD activity; however, expression of JunD/eb1 homodimers resulted in transcriptional repression. Mutagenesis of the IL-6 promoter showed that an AP-1 DNA-binding site previously reported to be an activator of transcription in fibroblasts functions as a suppressor of promoter activity in HSCs. We conclude that JunD activates IL-6 gene transcription as a heterodimer and operates at an alternative DNA-binding site in the promoter. The relevance of these findings to events occurring in the injured liver was addressed by showing that AP-1 DNA-binding complexes are induced during HSC activation and contain JunD as the predominant Jun family protein. JunD is therefore an important transcriptional regulator of genes responsive to Jun homo- and heterodimers in activated HSCs.

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