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J Biol Chem. 2001 Dec 28;276(52):48693-701. Epub 2001 Oct 19.

The induction of cyclooxygenase-2 mRNA in macrophages is biphasic and requires both CCAAT enhancer-binding protein beta (C/EBP beta ) and C/EBP delta transcription factors.

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Medical Research Council Protein Phosphorylation Unit, University of Dundee, Dundee DD1 5EH, Scotland.


Prostaglandins are important mediators of activated macrophage functions, and their inducible synthesis is mediated by cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2). Here, we make use of the murine macrophage cells RAW264 as well as of immortalized macrophages derived from mice deficient for the transcription factor CCAAT enhancer-binding protein beta (C/EBP beta) to explore the molecular mechanisms regulating COX-2 induction in activated macrophages. We demonstrate that lipopolysaccharide-mediated COX-2 mRNA induction is biphasic. The initial phase is independent of de novo protein synthesis, correlates with cAMP-response element-binding protein (CREB) activation, is inhibited by treatments that abolish CREB phosphorylation and reduce NF-kappa B-mediated gene activation, and requires the presence of the transcription factor C/EBP beta. On the other hand, C/EBP delta appears to be essential in addition to C/EBP beta to effect the second phase of COX-2 gene transcription, which is important for maintaining the induced state and requires de novo protein synthesis. Indeed, both phases of COX-2 induction were defective in C/EBP beta-/- macrophages. Moreover, the synthesis of C/EBP delta was increased dramatically by treatment with lipopolysaccharide and, like COX-2 induction, repressed by combined inhibition of the MAPK and of the SAPK2/p38 cascades. Taken together, these data identify CREB, NF-kappa B, and both C/EBP beta and -delta as key factors in coordinately orchestrating transcription from the COX-2 promoter in activated macrophages.

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