The Journal of biological chemistry

CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein β and NF-κB mediate high level expression of chemokine genes CCL3 and CCL4 by human chondrocytes in response to IL-1β.

PMID 20702408


A large set of chemokines is highly up-regulated in human chondrocytes in response to IL-1β (Sandell, L. J., Xing, X., Franz, C., Davies, S., Chang, L. W., and Patra, D. (2008) Osteoarthr. Cartil. 16, 1560-1571). To investigate the mechanism of transcriptional regulation, deletion constructs of selected chemokine gene promoters, the human CCL3 (MIP-1α) and CCL4 (MIP-1β), were transfected into human chondrocytes with or without IL-1β. The results show that an IL-1β-responsive element is located between bp -300 and -140 of the CCL3 promoter and between bp -222 and -100 of the CCL4 promoter. Because both of these elements contain CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein β (C/EBPβ) motifs, the function of C/EBPβ was examined. IL-1β stimulated the expression of C/EBPβ, and the direct binding of C/EBPβ to the C/EBPβ motif was confirmed by EMSA and ChIP analyses. The -300 bp CCL3 promoter and -222 bp CCL4 promoter were strongly up-regulated by co-transfection with the C/EBPβ expression vector. Mutation of the C/EBPβ motif and reduction of C/EBPβ expression by siRNA decreased the up-regulation. Additionally, another cytokine-related transcription factor, NF-κB, was also shown to be involved in the up-regulation of chemokines in response to IL-1β, and the binding site was identified. The regulation of C/EBPβ and NF-κB was confirmed by the inhibition by C/EBPβ and NF-κB and by transfection with C/EBPβ and NF-κB expression vectors in the presence or absence of IL-1β. Taken together, our results suggest that C/EBPβ and NF-κB are both involved in the IL-1β-responsive up-regulation of chemokine genes in human chondrocytes. Time course experiments indicated that C/EBPβ gradually and steadily induces chemokine up-regulation, whereas NF-κB activity was highest at the early stage of chemokine up-regulation.