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Eur J Immunol. 1998 Dec;28(12):4207-12.

Activation of nuclear factor-kappaB in macrophages by mycoplasmal lipopeptides.

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Immunobiology Research Group, Gesellschaft für Biotechnologische Forschung mbH, Braunschweig, Germany.


Mycoplasmas are potent macrophage stimulators. The active principle are lipopeptides or lipoproteins with a characteristic N-terminal S-[dihydroxypropyl]-cysteinyl group bearing two ester-bound fatty acids and lacking the amide-bound one common to other bacterial lipoproteins. Using synthetic analogues of mycoplasmal lipopeptides, we investigated activation of the transcription factor NF-kappaB in the C3H/HeJ mouse-derived DMBM-3 cell line. The lipopeptides activated NF-kappaB at below nanomolar concentrations. Activation in the murine system occurred distinctly earlier than TNF-alpha liberation, excluding autocrine stimulation by TNF-alpha. As determined from a supershift experiment, the active NF-kappaB complex consisted of the heterodimer p50/p65(RelA). The relevance of these findings for the inflammatory response to mycoplasmas and for mycoplasma-mediated effects on HIV-infected macrophages is discussed.

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