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J Immunol. 2007 Mar 1;178(5):2813-26.

Regulation of suppressor of cytokine signaling 3 (SOCS3) mRNA stability by TNF-alpha involves activation of the MKK6/p38MAPK/MK2 cascade.

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Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Infectiology, Heinrich-Heine University, Moorenstrasse 5, Düsseldorf, Germany.


The potential of some proinflammatory mediators to inhibit gp130-dependent STAT3 activation by enhancing suppressor of cytokine signaling (SOCS) 3 expression represents an important molecular mechanism admitting the modulation of the cellular response toward gp130-mediated signals. Thus, it is necessary to understand the mechanisms involved in the regulation of SOCS3 expression by proinflammatory mediators. In this study, we investigate SOCS3 expression initiated by the proinflammatory cytokine TNF-alpha. In contrast to IL-6, TNF-alpha increases SOCS3 expression by stabilizing SOCS3 mRNA. Activation of the MAPK kinase 6 (MKK6)/p38(MAPK)-cascade is required for TNF-alpha-mediated stabilization of SOCS3 mRNA and results in enhanced SOCS3 protein expression. In fibroblasts or macrophages deficient for MAPK-activated protein kinase 2 (MK2), a downstream target of the MKK6/p38(MAPK) cascade, basal SOCS3-expression is strongly reduced and TNF-alpha-induced SOCS3-mRNA stabilization is impaired, indicating that MK2 is crucial for the control of SOCS3 expression by p38(MAPK)-dependent signals. As a target for SOCS3 mRNA stability-regulating signals, a region containing three copies of a pentameric AUUUA motif in close proximity to a U-rich region located between positions 2422 and 2541 of the 3' untranslated region of SOCS3 is identified. One factor that could target this region is the zinc finger protein tristetraprolin (TTP), which is shown to be capable of destabilizing SOCS3 mRNA via this region. However, data from TTP-deficient cells suggest that TTP does not play an irreplaceable role in the regulation of SOCS3 mRNA stability by TNF-alpha. In summary, these data indicate that TNF-alpha regulates SOCS3 expression on the level of mRNA stability via activation of the MKK6/p38(MAPK) cascade and that the activation of MK2, a downstream target of p38(MAPK), is important for the regulation of SOCS3 expression.

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