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Eur J Biochem. 1996 Mar 15;236(3):871-6.

Surface-associated material from the bacterium Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans contains a peptide which, in contrast to lipopolysaccharide, directly stimulates fibroblast interleukin-6 gene transcription.

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Maxillofacial Surgery Research Unit, Eastman Dental Institute for Oral Health Care Sciences, University College London, UK.


The oral commensal Gram-negative bacterium Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans is believed to be the causative organism of localized juvenile periodontitis, a disease in which there is rapid loss of alveolar bone supporting the teeth. Previously, we have reported that gentle saline extraction of this bacterium removed a loosely adherent proteinaceous fraction from the cell surface of the bacterium, which we have termed surface-associated material. This material contained potent bone-resorbing activity. We now report that surface-associated material is also a potent stimulator of cytokines, and in particular, interleukin-6 (IL-6) synthesis, while the lipopolysaccharide from this bacterium is only a weak stimulator of IL-6 synthesis by fibroblasts and monocytes. In contrast to enteric lipopolysaccharide (LPS), which induces fibroblast IL-1, IL-6 and tumour necrosis factor (TNF) alpha synthesis, surface-associated material stimulated gingival fibroblasts to synthesize only IL-6, with no induction of IL-1 or TNF (the normal inducers of IL-6 synthesis). Reverse transcriptase PCR also failed to detect mRNA for IL-1 or TNF in surface-associated-material-stimulated fibroblasts, although both mRNAs were present in Escherichia coli LPS-stimulated cells. Neutralizing antibodies to IL-1 and/or TNF or the natural IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1ra) inhibited enteric LPS-induced IL-6 synthesis, but did not inhibit surface-associated-material-induced synthesis. In addition, dexamethasone, which completely suppressed LPS-induced IL-6 synthesis, only inhibited surface-associated-material-induced IL-6 synthesis by 50%. This suggests that the active constituent in the surface-associated material stimulates IL-6 gene transcription by a transcriptional control mechanism distinct to that of E. coli LPS. The IL-6 stimulating activity of the surface-associated material is inhibited by both heat and trypsin, suggesting that it is proteinaceous. The activity has been isolated using anion-exchange, reverse-phase and size-exclusion HPLC. The active moiety is a peptide of molecular mass 2kDa which may be the product of a bacterial short open reading frame.

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