Background: Expression of kappa gene is under the control of distinct cis-regulatory elements, including the kappa intron enhancer (iE kappa) and the kappa 3' enhancer (3'E kappa). The active enhancers and expression of immunoglobulin is generally considered to be restricted to B lymphocytes. However, accumulating evidence indicated that epithelial cancer cells, including nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) cell lines, express immunoglobulins. The mechanisms underlying the expression of Igs in nonlymphoid cells remain unknown. On the basis of our previous finding that expression of kappa light chain in NPC cells can be upregulated by EBV-encoded latent membrane protein 1(LMP1) through the activation of NF-kappaB and AP-1 signaling pathways, we thus use NPC cells as model to further explore the molecular mechanisms of nonlymphoid cells expressing Ig kappa.
Results: In this study, luciferase reporter plasmid containing human wild-type iE kappa, and its derivative plasmids containing mutant binding sites for transcription factor NF-kappaB or AP-1 were constructed. Luciferase reporter assays demonstrate iE kappa is active in Ig kappa-expressing NPC cells and LMP1 expression can upregulate the activity of iE kappa in NPC cells. Mutation of the NF-kappaB or AP-1 site within and downstream the iE kappa, inhibition of the NF-kappaB and AP-1 pathways by their respective chemical inhibitor Bay11-7082 and SP600125 as well as stable or transient expression of dominant-negative mutant of I kappaB alpha (DNMI kappaB alpha) or of c-Jun (TAM67) indicate that both sites are functional and LMP1-enhanced iE kappa activity is partly regulated by these two sites. Gel shift assays show that LMP1 promotes NF-kappaB subunits p52 and p65 as well as AP-1 family members c-Jun and c-Fos binding to the kappa NF-kappaB and the kappa AP-1 motifs in vitro, respectively. Both chemical inhibitors and dominant negative mutants targeting for NF-kappaB and AP-1 pathways can attenuate the LMP1-enhanced bindings. Co-IP assays using nuclear extracts from HNE2-LMP1 cells reveal that p52 and p65, c-Jun and c-Fos proteins interact with each other at endogenous levels. ChIP assays further demonstrate p52 and p65 binding to the kappaB motif as well as c-Jun and c-Fos binding to the AP-1 motif of Ig kappa gene in vivo.
Conclusion: These results suggest that human iE kappa is active in Ig kappa-expressing NPC cells and LMP1-stimulated NF-kappaB and AP-1 activation results in an augmenting activation of the iE kappa. LMP1 promotes the interactions of heterodimeric NF-kappaB (p52/p65) and heterodimeric AP-1 (c-Jun/c-Fos) transcription factors with the human iE kappa enhancer region are important for the upregulation of kappa light chain in LMP1-positive nasopharyngeal carcinoma cells.