Elucidation of the signaling network of COX-2 induction in sheared chondrocytes: COX-2 is induced via a Rac/MEKK1/MKK7/JNK2/c-Jun-C/EBPβ- dependent pathway

Zachary R. Healy, Fei Zhu, Joshua D. Stull, Konstantinos Konstantopoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Shear stress is a pathophysiologically relevant mechanical signal in cartilage biology and tissue engineering. Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) is a pivotal proinflammatory enzyme, which is induced by mechanical loading-derived shear stress in chondrocytes. In the present study, we investigated the transcriptional machinery and signaling pathway regulating shear-induced COX-2 expression in human chondrocytic cells. Deletion and mutation analyses of the human cox-2 promoter reveal that the CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein (C/EBP) and activator protein-1 (AP-1) predominantly contribute to the shear-induced cox-2 promoter activity. Supershift assays disclose that C/EBPβ, but not C/EBPα or C/EBPδ, binds to the C/EBP site, whereas c-Jun binds to AP-1. Individual gene knockdown experiments demonstrate the direct regulation of C/EBPβ expression by c-Jun, and the critical roles of both c-Jun and C/EBPβ in shear-induced COX-2 synthesis. Our studies also indicate that Rac and, to a lesser extent, Cdc42 transactivate MEKK1, which is, in turn, responsible for activation of mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 7 (MKK7). MKK7 regulates c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase 2 activation, which, in turn, triggers the phosphorylation of c-Jun that controls shear-mediated COX-2 upregulation in chondrocytes. Reconstructing the signaling network regulating shear-induced COX-2 expression and inflammation may provide insights to optimize conditions for culturing artificial cartilage in bioreactors and for developing therapeutic interventions for arthritic disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)C1146-C1157
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology
Volume294
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2008

Keywords

  • Cyclooxygenase
  • Enhancer-binding protein
  • Mechanobiology
  • Mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase
  • Shear stress
  • Signal transduction
  • c-Jun NH -terminal kinase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cell Biology

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