Molecular immunology

Calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II regulates IL-10 production by human T lymphocytes: a distinct target in the calcium dependent pathway.

PMID 22578382


Calcium (Ca2+) plays an essential role in lymphocyte activation and differentiation by affecting signaling pathways leading to cytokine production. Among the enzymes responding to calcium increase, Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) has been involved in anergy with a still poorly characterized role. IL-10 produced by different T lymphocyte subpopulations is critical mediator of tolerance. We tested the hypothesis that CaMKII may be involved in IL-10 production. We report that CaMKII upregulates IL-10 production by primary human T lymphocytes stimulated through the antigen receptor or bypassing that. Overexpression of constitutively active mutant forms of Calcineurin or CaMKII specifically increase IL-10 protein product and IL-10 mRNA accumulation in T lymphocytes. By cotransfecting constitutively active CaMKII with luciferase reporter plasmids carrying specific fragments or the whole IL-10 promoter, we show that CaMKII specifically activates IL-10 promoter activity, whereas it inhibits IL-2 and IL-4 promoter. This effect is mediated by the first 500 bp fragment, which contains binding sites for Myocyte Enhancer Factor-2 (MEF2). A constitutively active mutant of CaMKII activated a luciferase reporter plasmid under the control of MEF2, when cotransfected in T lymphocytes stimulated by Ionomycin and PMA, whereas its inhibitor KN-62 inhibited MEF2 binding in cell lysates of the same cells. Moreover, overexpression of MEF2 enhanced by 2.5-fold IL-10 promoter activity. Our data for the first time suggest a distinct role of CaMKII in the induction of anergy in T lymphocytes, by differential regulation of IL-10 and IL-2 gene transcription suggest MEF2 as a molecular target which can integrate different calcium signals.