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Blood. 2008 Dec 15;112(13):4961-70. doi: 10.1182/blood-2008-03-144022. Epub 2008 Sep 25.

CaMKII promotes TLR-triggered proinflammatory cytokine and type I interferon production by directly binding and activating TAK1 and IRF3 in macrophages.

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Institute of Immunology and National Key Laboratory of Medical Immunology, Second Military Medical University, Shanghai, China.


Calcium and its major downstream effector, calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII), are found to be important for the functions of immune cells. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) has been shown to induce intracellular calcium release in macrophages; however, whether and how CaMKII is required for Toll-like receptor (TLR) signaling remain unknown. Here we demonstrate that TLR 4, 9, and 3 ligands markedly induce intracellular calcium fluxes and activate CaMKII-alpha in macrophages. Selective inhibition or RNA interference of CaMKII significantly suppresses TLR4, 9, 3-triggered production of interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor-alpha, and interferon-alpha/beta (IFN-alpha/beta) in macrophages. Coincidently, overexpression of constitutively active CaMKII-alpha significantly enhances production of the above cytokines. In addition to the activation of mitogen-activated protein kinase and nuclear factor kappaB pathways, CaMKII-alpha can directly bind and phosphorylate transforming growth factor beta-activated kinase 1 (TAK1) and IFN regulatory factor 3 (IRF3; serine on 386) via the N-terminal part of its regulatory domain. Therefore, CaMKII can be activated by TLR ligands, and in turn promotes both myeloid differentiating factor 88 and Toll/IL-1 receptor domain-containing adaptor protein-inducing IFN-beta-dependent inflammatory responses by directly activating TAK1 and IRF3. The cross-talk with the calcium/CaMKII pathway is needed for full activation of TLR signaling in macrophages.

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