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J Immunol. 2009 Jun 15;182(12):7527-38. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.0804121.

Gene disruption study reveals a nonredundant role for TRIM21/Ro52 in NF-kappaB-dependent cytokine expression in fibroblasts.

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Laboratory of Molecular Growth Regulation, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892.


The tripartite motif (TRIM) family member, TRIM21, is an E3 ubiquitin ligase for IFN regulatory factor (IRF)3 and IRF8 that functions in both innate and acquired immunity. It is also an autoantigen known as Ro52/SS-A. The function of TRIM21 in vivo, however, has remained elusive. We generated Trim21(-/-) mice with the Trim21 gene replaced by an enhanced GFP (EGFP) reporter. EGFP expression analyses showed that Trim21 was widely expressed in many tissues, with the highest levels in immune cells. Studies of Trim21(-/-) embryonic fibroblasts demonstrated that TLR-mediated induction of proinflammatory cytokines, including IL-1beta, IL-6, TNF-alpha, and CXCL10, was consistently up-regulated relative to wild-type cells. Reporter analyses demonstrated that TLR-mediated NF-kappaB activation was higher in Trim21(-/-) cells than in wild-type cells, most likely accounting for their enhanced cytokine expression. In contrast, functional analyses of immune cells from Trim21(-/-) mice revealed no abnormalities in their composition or function, even though ubiquitylation of IRF3 and IRF8 was impaired. These results suggested possible redundancies in activities mediated by TRIM21. In keeping with this concept, we found that a number of TRIM family members were up-regulated in Trim21(-/-) cells. Taken together, these findings demonstrate that TRIM21 plays a previously unrecognized role in the negative regulation of NF-kappaB-dependent proinflammatory cytokine responses, and suggest that multiple TRIM proteins contribute to the maintenance of functional equilibrium in inflammatory responses, in part through functional redundancy.

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