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Cross-regulation of cytokine signalling: pro-inflammatory cytokines restrict IL-6 signalling through receptor internalisation and degradation
Simone Radtke, Stefan Wüller, Xiang-ping Yang, Barbara E. Lippok, Barbara Mütze, Christine Mais, Hildegard Schmitz-Van de Leur, Johannes G. Bode, Matthias Gaestel, Peter C. Heinrich, Iris Behrmann, Fred Schaper, Heike M. Hermanns


The inflammatory response involves a complex interplay of different cytokines which act in an auto- or paracrine manner to induce the so-called acute phase response. Cytokines are known to crosstalk on multiple levels, for instance by regulating the mRNA stability of targeted cytokines through activation of the p38-MAPK pathway. In our study we discovered a new mechanism that answers the long-standing question how pro-inflammatory cytokines and environmental stress restrict immediate signalling of interleukin (IL)-6-type cytokines. We show that p38, activated by IL-1β, TNFα or environmental stress, impairs IL-6-induced JAK/STAT signalling through phosphorylation of the common cytokine receptor subunit gp130 and its subsequent internalisation and degradation. We identify MK2 as the kinase that phosphorylates serine 782 in the cytoplasmic part of gp130. Consequently, inhibition of p38 or MK2, deletion of MK2 or mutation of crucial amino acids within the MK2 target site or the di-leucine internalisation motif blocks receptor depletion and restores IL-6-dependent STAT activation as well as gene induction. Hence, a novel negative crosstalk mechanism for cytokine signalling is described, where cytokine receptor turnover is regulated in trans by pro-inflammatory cytokines and stress stimuli to coordinate the inflammatory response.

  • Accepted January 9, 2010.
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