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J Biol Chem. 2001 Nov 9;276(45):42580-7. Epub 2001 Sep 6.

Decreased sensitivity of tristetraprolin-deficient cells to p38 inhibitors suggests the involvement of tristetraprolin in the p38 signaling pathway.

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Office of Clinical Research and Laboratory of Signal Transduction, NIEHS, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709, USA.


Treatment of macrophages with pyridinyl imidazole inhibitors of p38 protein kinases can inhibit lipopolysaccharide-stimulated tumor necrosis factor alpha secretion. However, bone marrow-derived macrophages from tristetraprolin (TTP)-deficient mice were less sensitive than normal macrophages to this effect of p38 inhibitors, despite evidence for normal p38 activation in response to lipopolysaccharide. TTP is known to cause decreased stability of tumor necrosis factor alpha and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor mRNAs after binding to an AU-rich element in their 3'-untranslated regions. A recombinant TTP fusion protein could be phosphorylated by a recombinant p38 kinase in cell-free assays and was phosphorylated to the same extent by immunoprecipitated p38 derived from normal and TTP-deficient cells stimulated with lipopolysaccharide; in both cases, the enzyme activity was inhibited by the p38 inhibitors. TTP phosphorylation also was increased in intact macrophages after lipopolysaccharide stimulation, an effect that was blocked by the p38 inhibitors. Finally, TTP in mammalian cell extracts bound less well to an AU-rich element RNA probe than did the same amount of TTP following dephosphorylation. These results suggest that TTP may be a component of the signaling cascade, initiated by inflammatory stimuli and mediated in part by activation of p38, that ultimately leads to enhanced secretion of tumor necrosis factor alpha.

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