The cytoplasmic-element-binding (CPEB) protein is a sequence-specific RNA-binding protein that regulates cytoplasmic polyadenylation-induced translation. In mouse embryo fibroblasts (MEFs) lacking CPEB, many mRNAs encoding proteins involved in inflammation are misregulated. Correlated with this aberrant translation in MEFs, a macrophage cell line depleted of CPEB and treated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) to stimulate the inflammatory immune response expresses high levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6), which is due to prolonged nuclear retention of NF-κB. Two proteins involved in NF-κB nuclear localization and IL-6 expression, IκBα and transforming growth factor beta-activated kinase 1 (TAK1), are present at excessively low and high steady-state levels, respectively, in LPS-treated CPEB-depleted macrophages. However, only TAK1 has an altered synthesis rate that is CPEB dependent and CPEB/TAK1 double depletion alleviates high IL-6 production. Peritoneal macrophages isolated from CPEB knockout (KO) mice treated with LPS in vitro also have prolonged NF-κB nuclear retention and produce high IL-6 levels. LPS-injected CPEB KO mice secrete prodigious amounts of IL-6 and other proinflammatory cytokines and exhibit hypersensitivity to endotoxic shock; these effects are mitigated when the animals are also injected with (5Z)-7-oxozeaenol, a potent and specific inhibitor of TAK1. These data show that CPEB control of TAK1 mRNA translation mediates the inflammatory immune response.
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