Earlier we have demonstrated that IL-12 p40 homodimer (p40(2)) induces the expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) in microglia. This study was undertaken to investigate underlying mechanisms required for IL-12 p40(2)- and IL-12 p70-induced expression of iNOS in microglia. IL-12 p40(2) alone induced the activation of both extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK). Interestingly, the ERK pathway coupled p40(2) to iNOS expression via C/EBP beta, but not NF-kappaB, whereas the p38 pathway relayed the signal from p40(2) to iNOS expression via both NF-kappaB and C/EBP beta. Furthermore, by using microglia from IL-12R beta 1 (-/-) and IL-12R beta 2 (-/-) mice or siRNA against IL-12R beta 1 and IL-12R beta 2, we demonstrate that p40(2) induced the expression of iNOS in microglia via IL-12R beta 1-(ERK+p38)-(NF-kappaB +C/EBP beta) pathway. In contrast, both IL-12R beta 1 and IL-12R beta 2 were involved for IL-12 p70-induced microglial expression of iNOS. Although IL-12R beta 1 coupled p70 to NF-kappaB and C/EBP beta, IL-12R beta 2 was responsible for p70-mediated activation of GAS. This study delineates a new role of IL-12R beta 1 and IL-12R beta 2 for the expression of iNOS and production of NO in microglia that may participate in the pathogenesis of neuroinflammatory diseases.
(c) 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.