NF-kappaB, but not p38 MAP kinase, is required for TNF-alpha-induced expression of cell adhesion molecules in endothelial cells

Suja Rajan, Jianming Ye, Shanshan Bai, Faqing Huang, Yan-Lin Guo
Journal of Cellular Biochemistry 2008 October 1, 105 (2): 477-86
In response to inflammation stimuli, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) induces expression of cell adhesion molecules (CAMs) in endothelial cells (ECs). Studies have suggested that the nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) and the p38 MAP kinase (p38) signaling pathways play central roles in this process, but conflicting results have been reported. The objective of this study is to determine the relative contributions of the two pathways to the effect of TNF-alpha. Our initial data indicated that blockade of p38 activity by chemical inhibitor SB203580 (SB) at 10 microM moderately inhibited TNF-alpha-induced expression of three types of CAMs; ICAM-1, VCAM-1 and E-selectin, indicating that p38 may be involved in the process. However, subsequent analysis revealed that neither 1 microM SB that could completely inhibit p38 nor specific knockdown of p38alpha and p38beta with small interference RNA (siRNA) had an apparent effect, indicating that p38 activity is not essential for TNF-alpha-induced CAMs. The most definitive evidence to support this conclusion was from the experiments using cells differentiated from p38alpha knockout embryonic stem cells. We could show that deletion of p38alpha gene did not affect TNF-alpha-induced ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 expression when compared with wild-type cells. We further demonstrated that inhibition of NF-kappaB completely blocked TNF-alpha-induced expression of ICAM-1, VCAM-1 and E-selectin. Taken together, our results clearly demonstrate that NF-kappaB, but not p38, is critical for TNF-alpha-induced CAM expression. The inhibition of SB at 10 microM on TNF-alpha-induced ICAM-1, VCAM-1 and E-selectin is likely due to the nonspecific effect of SB.

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