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Arthritis Rheumatol. 2014 Dec;66(12):3436-44. doi: 10.1002/art.38818.

A critical role of the transcription factor fli-1 in murine lupus development by regulation of interleukin-6 expression.

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Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston.



The Fli-1 transcription factor is implicated in the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), both in humans and in animal models. Dysregulation of interleukin-6 (IL-6) is also associated with SLE. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether Fli-1 directly regulates the expression of IL-6.


Sera were collected from wild-type and Fli-1-heterozygous (Fli-1(+/-) ) MRL/lpr mice, and the concentration of IL-6 was measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Expression of IL-6 in the kidney was measured by real-time polymerase chain reaction analysis. T cells were isolated from wild-type and Fli-1(+/-) MRL/lpr mice and stimulated with CD3/CD28 beads, and the concentration of IL-6 in the supernatants was measured by ELISA. MS1 endothelial cells were transfected with Fli-1 and control small interfering RNA, and the production of IL-6 was compared after lipopolysaccharide stimulation. A chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assay was performed to determine whether Fli-1 binds to the IL-6 promoter region. Transient transfections with the NIH3T3 cell line were performed to examine whether Fli-1 regulates the expression of IL-6.


Fli-1(+/-) MRL/lpr mice had significantly decreased IL-6 levels in sera and reduced expression of IL-6 in kidneys as compared to their wild-type littermates. T cells isolated from Fli-1(+/-) MRL/lpr mice produced less IL-6 than did those from wild-type mice. Inhibiting the expression of Fli-1 in endothelial cells resulted in reduced production of IL-6. The ChIP assay revealed direct binding of Fli-1 to 3 regions within the IL-6 promoter. Fli-1 activated transcription from the IL-6 promoter in a dose-dependent manner.


The direct regulation of IL-6 expression by Fli-1 represents one possible mechanism for the protective effect of decreased Fli-1 expression in lupus.

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