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PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e50684. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0050684. Epub 2013 Jan 21.

Phosphorylation of STAT-1 serine 727 is prolonged in HLA-B27-expressing human monocytic cells.

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Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, University of Turku, Turku, Finland.


A tissue antigen, HLA-B27, is strongly associated with a group of rheumatic diseases called spondyloarthritides. Despite the intensive research, the exact role of HLA-B27 in the pathogenesis of these diseases is still unclear. Here we studied whether HLA-B27 modulates the phosphorylation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 1 (STAT-1) serine 727 residue and the localization of STAT-1 in Salmonella-infected human monocytic cells. In addition, we studied the role of signaling molecule double-stranded RNA activated protein kinase (PKR) in these modulatory effects. U937 human monocytic cell transfectants stably expressing wild type HLA-B27 or mutated HLA-B27 heavy chains with amino acid substitutions in the B pocket were prepared. The PMA-differentiated cells were infected with S. enteritidis. Western blotting was used to detect the phosphorylation of STAT-1, and to visualize the localization of STAT-1 in the cells confocal microscopy was used. Specific inhibitors were employed to study the role of PKR in STAT-1 phosphorylation. We discovered that the phosphorylation of STAT-1 serine 727 is prolonged in cells expressing misfolding forms of HLA-B27 after S. enteritidis infection, whereas in mock cells and in cells expressing mutated, non-misfolding HLA-B27 the phosphorylation of serine 727 is transient. Interestingly, STAT-1 serine 727 phosphorylation is partly dependent on PKR. In addition, more STAT-1 is localized in the nucleus of HLA-B27-expressing cells, even before an external trigger, when compared to mock cells. In conclusion, our results show that the phosphorylation of STAT-1 serine 727 residue is prolonged in HLA-B27-expressing monocyte-macrophage U937 cells after bacterial infection. This is of interest since the phosphorylation of serine 727 on STAT-1 is suggested to contribute to macrophage activation and promote inflammatory responses. Therefore, our results provide a mechanism which explains how the expression of an HLA-B27 molecule can impact the course of Salmonella infection and reactive arthritis.

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