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BMB Rep. 2009 Sep 30;42(9):552-60.

Posttranscriptional and posttranslational determinants of cyclooxygenase expression.

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Department of Life Science, University of Seoul, Seoul 130-743, Korea.


Cyclooxygenases (COX-1 and COX-2) are ER-resident proteins that catalyze the committed step in prostanoid synthesis. COX-1 is constitutively expressed in many mammalian cells, whereas COX-2 is usually expressed inducibly and transiently. Abnormal expression of COX-2 has been implicated in the pathogenesis of chronic inflammation and various cancers; therefore, it is subject to tight and complex regulation. Differences in regulation of the COX enzymes at the posttranscriptional and posttranslational levels also contribute significantly to their distinct patterns of expression. Rapid degradation of COX-2 mRNA has been attributed to AU-rich elements (AREs) at its 3' UTR. Recently, microRNAs that can selectively repress COX-2 protein synthesis have been identified. The mature forms of these COX proteins are very similar in structure except that COX-2 has a unique 19-amino acid (19-aa) segment located near the C-terminus. This C-terminal 19-aa cassette plays an important role in mediation of the entry of COX-2 into the ER-associated degradation (ERAD) system, which transports ER proteins to the cytoplasm for degradation by the 26S proteasome. A second pathway for COX-2 protein degradation is initiated after the enzyme undergoes suicide inactivation following cyclooxygenase catalysis. Here, we discuss these molecular determinants of COX-2 expression in detail. [BMB reports 2009; 42(9): 552-560].

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