Post-Transcriptional Regulation of the Murine Inducible Nitric Oxide Synthase Gene
Abstract: Large amounts of nitric oxide (NO) are produced by the inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) upon inflammatory stimuli. NO is a multifaceted molecule, which may have beneficial effects as an antimicrobial agent in the immune defense, or cytotoxic effects in chronic inflammations, manifested as e.g. arthritis and asthma. Understanding the mode of regulation of the iNOS gene is a prerequisite for developing intervention strategies in various pathological conditions where detrimental effects of NO need to be prevented.Transcriptional processes of the iNOS gene regulation are well described, while post-transcriptional events have not been studied in detail. The aim of the present thesis was to investigate post-transcriptional regulatory mechanisms involving the 3’untranslated region (UTR) of the murine iNOS mRNA.Inflammation-dependent RNA-protein interactions with the iNOS mRNA 3’UTR were characterized by RNA gel shift analysis and UV cross-linking. Trans-acting factors interacting with the 3’UTR were detected in mouse liver and macrophages and identified as heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoproteins (hnRNP) I and L. Western blot revealed that reduced hnRNPI levels are responsible for the decreased interaction of hnRNPI with iNOS 3’UTR upon induction in inflammatory conditions. This decrease was reversed by the glucocorticoid dexamethasone, concomitant with decreased iNOS mRNA levels and stability. Introduction of the iNOS 3’UTR into a luciferase reporter gene reduced its expression in macrophages. Upon deletions of the binding sites for hnRNPI and hnRNPL, the luciferase expression was recovered. In addition, inflammatory stimuli increased the luciferase activity of the construct with the full-length 3’UTR, while only weak effects of the stimuli were seen on the deletion constructs.In conclusion, the results suggest that binding of hnRNPI and hnRNPL to the iNOS mRNA 3’UTR promotes degradation of the transcript. Induction of iNOS by inflammatory stimuli dissociates the RNA-protein complex, yielding a more stable mRNA. In addition, post-transcriptional down-regulation of the iNOS gene by the anti-inflammatory glucocorticoid dexamethasone, seems to involve hnRNPI.
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