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J Biol Chem. 2005 Feb 11;280(6):4772-8. Epub 2004 Nov 23.

Interleukins 2 and 15 regulate Ets1 expression via ERK1/2 and MNK1 in human natural killer cells.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy, Hollings Cancer Center, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina 29425, USA.


Interleukins (IL)-2 and IL-15 regulate natural killer (NK) cell proliferation, survival, and cytolytic activity. Ets1 is a transcription factor expressed early in NK cell differentiation. Because IL-2Rbeta, IL-2Rgamma, IL-15, and Ets1 knock-out mice similarly lack NK cells, we explored a molecular connection between IL-2R signaling and Ets1. Here we report the post-transcriptional regulation of Ets1 by IL-2R signaling in human NK cells. IL-2 and IL-15 stimulation leads to increased Ets1 protein levels with no significant change in mRNA levels. Pulse and pulse-chase experiments show that IL-2 stimulation results in both a marked increase in the nascent translation of Ets1 and an increased protein half-life. Pharmacological inhibition of MEK specifically blocks IL-2- and IL-15-induced translation, whereas p38, phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, and mTOR inhibitors had no effect on Ets1 levels. Fli1, an Ets family member, exhibited a different mechanism of regulation, illustrating the specificity of IL-2R beta and gamma subunit signaling on the regulation of Ets1 expression. Expression of a dominant negative form of MNK1, a regulator of the translation initiation factor eIF4E, blocks the expression of Ets1 as do the dominant negative forms of the common IL-2R beta and gamma chains. Expression of Ets1 is regulated similarly in normal peripheral human NK cells. Taken together, our findings provide a direct link between IL-2R subunit signaling and Ets1 expression and helps to explain the interdependence of the IL-2R subunits and Ets1 for NK cell development and function.

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