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Biochem J. 2004 Feb 1;377(Pt 3):629-39.

Structural and functional dissection of a conserved destabilizing element of cyclo-oxygenase-2 mRNA: evidence against the involvement of AUF-1 [AU-rich element/poly(U)-binding/degradation factor-1], AUF-2, tristetraprolin, HuR (Hu antigen R) or FBP1 (far-upstream-sequence-element-binding protein 1).

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Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology Division, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, 1 Aspenlea Road, Hammersmith, London W6 8LH, U.K.


COX-2 (cyclo-oxygenase-2) mRNA is degraded rapidly in resting cells, but is stabilized by the mitogen-activated protein kinase p38 signalling pathway in response to pro-inflammatory stimuli. A conserved ARE (AU-rich element) of the COX-2 3' untranslated region, CR1 (conserved region 1), acts as a potent instability determinant, and mediates stabilization in response to p38 activation. A detailed structural and functional analysis of this element was performed in an attempt to identify RNA-binding proteins involved in the regulation of COX-2 mRNA stability. Destabilization of a beta-globin reporter mRNA was dependent upon two distinct AREs within CR1, each containing three copies of the sequence AUUUA. CR1 was shown to bind AUF-1 [ARE/poly(U)-binding/degradation factor-1] and/or AUF-2, HuR (Hu antigen R), TTP (tristetraprolin) and FBP1 (far-upstream-sequence-element-binding protein 1), yet these factors did not appear to account for the effects of CR1 upon mRNA stability. Mutant sequences were identified that were incapable of destabilizing a reporter mRNA, yet showed unimpaired binding of FBP1 and AUF-1 and/or -2. TTP was absent from the HeLa cell line used in this analysis. Finally, RNA interference experiments argued against a prominent role for HuR in the CR1-mediated regulation of mRNA stability. We conclude that at least one critical regulator of COX-2 mRNA stability is likely to remain unidentified at present.

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