Send to

Choose Destination
Eur J Immunol. 2003 Nov;33(11):3038-48.

p38 MAPK is a critical regulator of the constitutive and the beta4 integrin-regulated expression of IL-6 in human normal thymic epithelial cells.

Author information

Department of Experimental Medicine and Pathology, Institute Pasteur-Fondazione Cenci Bolognetti, University of Rome La Sapienza, Rome, Italy.


Cytokines and adhesion receptors are key mediators in the dialog occurring between thymic epithelial cells (TEC) and thymocytes and regulating T cell maturation and epithelial embryonic differentiation. Among cytokines, IL-6 can be critical in the thymus, fostering proliferation, differentiation and/or survival of both TEC and thymocytes. We have previously reported in human normal TEC that clustering of the laminin receptor alpha6beta4 integrin induced by thymocyte contact or monoclonal antibody-mediated cross-linking regulates IL-6 gene expression via activation of NF-kappaB and NF-IL6 transactivators. Here we show that alpha6beta4 integrin activates p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and that p38 is essential for IL-6 gene expression. In fact, beta4 cross-linking activated p38 and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) MAPK, Rac1, p21-activated protein kinase 1 (PAK1) and MAPK kinases (MKK) 3/MKK6. However, pharmacological blockade of p38 or ERK demonstrated that p38 inhibition abrogated both basal and beta4 integrin-induced production of IL-6 preventing NF-kappaB and NF-IL6 activation, whereas ERK inhibition reduced IL-6 production, hampering only NF-kappaB activation. Overall, our results indicate that p38 MAPK and alpha6beta4 integrin, expressed by TEC throughout their life, are critical regulators of the intrathymic availability of a cytokine controlling fate and functions of cells governing development and maintenance of thymic architecture and immune responses.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center