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J Biol Chem. 2005 Nov 18;280(46):38247-58. Epub 2005 Sep 16.

Kruppel-like factor 4 is a mediator of proinflammatory signaling in macrophages.

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Program in Cardiovascular Transcriptional Biology, Cardiovascular Division, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Activation of macrophages is important in chronic inflammatory disease states such as atherosclerosis. Proinflammatory cytokines such as interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma), lipopolysaccharide (LPS), or tumor necrosis factor-alpha can promote macrophage activation. Conversely, anti-inflammatory factors such as transforming growth factor-beta1 (TGF-beta1) can decrease proinflammatory activation. The molecular mediators regulating the balance of these opposing effectors remain incompletely understood. Herein, we identify Kruppel-like factor 4 (KLF4) as being markedly induced in response to IFN-gamma, LPS, or tumor necrosis factor-alpha and decreased by TGF-beta1 in macrophages. Overexpression of KLF4 in J774a macrophages induced the macrophage activation marker inducible nitric-oxide synthase and inhibited the TGF-beta1 and Smad3 target gene plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1). Conversely, KLF4 knockdown markedly attenuated the ability of IFN-gamma, LPS, or IFN-gamma plus LPS to induce the iNOS promoter, whereas it augmented macrophage responsiveness to TGF-beta1 and Smad3 signaling. The KLF4 induction of the iNOS promoter is mediated by two KLF DNA-binding sites at -95 and -212 bp, and mutation of these sites diminished induction by IFN-gamma and LPS. We further provide evidence that KLF4 interacts with the NF-kappaB family member p65 (RelA) to cooperatively induce the iNOS promoter. In contrast, KLF4 inhibited the TGF-beta1/Smad3 induction of the PAI-1 promoter independent of KLF4 DNA binding through a novel antagonistic competition with Smad3 for the C terminus of the coactivator p300/CBP. These findings support an important role for KLF4 as a regulator of key signaling pathways that control macrophage activation.

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