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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

1
Department of Experimental Medicine and Pathology, Institute Pasteur-Fondazione Cenci Bolognetti, University of Rome La Sapienza, Rome, Italy.

Abstract

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.

PMID:
14579272
DOI:
10.1002/eji.200323931
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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