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Nat Immunol. 2009 Apr;10(4):437-43. doi: 10.1038/ni.1721. Epub 2009 Mar 8.

Function of C/EBPdelta in a regulatory circuit that discriminates between transient and persistent TLR4-induced signals.

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Institute for Systems Biology, Seattle, Washington, USA.


The innate immune system is like a double-edged sword: it is absolutely required for host defense against infection, but when uncontrolled, it can trigger a plethora of inflammatory diseases. Here we use systems-biology approaches to predict and confirm the existence of a gene-regulatory network involving dynamic interaction among the transcription factors NF-kappaB, C/EBPdelta and ATF3 that controls inflammatory responses. We mathematically modeled transcriptional regulation of the genes encoding interleukin 6 and C/EBPdelta and experimentally confirmed the prediction that the combination of an initiator (NF-kappaB), an amplifier (C/EBPdelta) and an attenuator (ATF3) forms a regulatory circuit that discriminates between transient and persistent Toll-like receptor 4-induced signals. Our results suggest a mechanism that enables the innate immune system to detect the duration of infection and to respond appropriately.

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