A distinct element involved in the lipopolysaccharide activation of the tumor necrosis factor-alpha promoter in a promonocytic cell line, THP-1

Belisa Diaz, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


TNF-α is a pleiotropic cytokine involved in normal homeostasis and plays a key role in defending the host from infection and malignancy. However when deregulated, TNF-α can lead to various disease states. Therefore, understanding the mechanisms by which TNF-α is regulated may aid in its control. In spite of the knowledge gained regarding the transcriptional regulation of TNF-α further characterization of specific TNF-α promoter elements remains to be elucidated. In particular, the TNF-α AP-1/CRE-like (TAC) element of the TNF-α promoter has been shown to be important in the regulation of TNF-α in lymphocytes. Activating transcription factor-2 (ATF-2) and c-Jun were shown to bind to and transactivate the TAC element However, the role of TAC and transcription factors ATF-2 and c-Jun in the regulation of TNF-α in monocytes is not as well characterized. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS), a potent activator of TNF-α in monocytes, provides a good model to study the involvement of TAC in TNF-α regulation. On the other hand, all-tram retinoic acid (ATRA), a physiological monocyte-differentiation agent, is unable to induce TNF-α protein release. To delineate the functional role of TAC, we transfected the wildtype or the TAC deleted TNF-α promoter-CAT construct into THP-1 promonocytic cells before stimulating them with LPS. CAT activity was induced 17-fold with the wildtype TNF-α promoter, whereas the CAT activity was uninducible when the TAC deletion mutant was used. This daft suggests that TAC is vital for LPS to activate the TNF-α promoter. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays using the TAC element as a probe showed a unique pattern for LPS-activated cells: the disappearance of the upper band of a doublet seen in untreated and ATRA treated cells. Supershift analysis identified c-Jun and ATF-2 as components of the LPS-stimulated binding complex. Transient transfection studies using dominant negative mutants of JNK, c-Jun, or ATF-2 suggest that these proteins we important for LPS to activate the TNF-α promoter. Furthermore, an increase in phosphorylated or activated c-Jun was bound to the TAC element in LPS-stimulated cells. Increased c-Jun activation was correlated with increased activity of Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), a known upstream stimulator of c-Jun and ATF-2, in LPS-stimulated monocytes. On the other hand, ATRA did not induce TNF-α protein release nor changes in the phosphorylation of c-Jun or JNK activity, suggesting that pathways leading to ATRA differentiation of monocytic cells are independent of TNF-α activation. Together, the induction of TNF-α gene expression seems to require JNK activation, and activated c-Jun binding to the TAC element of the TNF-α promoter in THP-1 promonocytic cells.

Subject Area

Molecular biology|Immunology

Recommended Citation

Diaz, Belisa, "A distinct element involved in the lipopolysaccharide activation of the tumor necrosis factor-alpha promoter in a promonocytic cell line, THP-1" (1999). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9959006.