CHARACTERIZATION OF THE ROLE OF MAPKS IN LEISHMANIA INFECTED MACROPHAGES.
Mosser, David M.
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In the current study, we examined the role of the Mitogen Activated Protein Kinases (MAPKs) on the biological responses of macrophages infected with Leishmania. The first section examined the role of MAPK/ERK in IL-10 production by Leishmania-infected macrophages. The macrophage-derived IL-10 has been shown to exacerbate Leishmaniasis. However, the molecular mechanisms whereby Leishmaniasis prompts IL-10 induction are poorly understood. A combination of two signals was necessary for IL-10 induction by the Leishmania amastigotes-infected macrophages. The first signal is mediated by TLR ligation whereas the second signal is mediated by FcgammaR ligation, which yields a population of regulatory macrophages that produce high levels of IL-10. Infection of macrophages with L. amazonensis amastigotes from the lesion sites sparked MAPK/ERK activation, which was required, but not sufficient for IL-10 induction. In combination with an inflammatory stimulus, LMW-HA from the extracellular matrix, these parasites triggered the macrophages to highly produce IL-10. MAPK/ERK activation initiated an epigenetic modification of chromatin at the IL-10 locus, which allowed for transcription factor Sp1 binding to drive IL-10 transcription and subsequent production. U0126, an inhibitor of MAPK/ERK activation, decreased lesion progression in Leishmania infected mice. The second section examined the role of MAPK/p38 in cytokine production and vaccination against Leishmaniasis. TLR agonists activate macrophages to produce pro-inflammatory cytokines and reactive oxygen intermediates. Inhibition of MAPK/p38 reciprocally increased IL-12 but decreased TNFa production from LPS-stimulated macrophages, which also occurred following stimulation by a variety of other TLR agonists, and using different APCs. MAPK/p38 inhibition induced IL-12p40 mRNA accumulation mainly due to enhanced mRNA stability, which was independent of IL-10. Similar results were observed by knocking down MAPK/p38 using specific siRNAs or by targeted deletion of MKK3. IL-12 production following the inhibition of MAPK/p38 skewed antigen-specific T cells to produce more IFN-gamma and less IL-4 in vitro. A MAPK/p38 inhibitor was applied as an adjuvant to vaccine mice against L. major, which resulted in smaller lesions with fewer parasites. Our findings reveal an important role of MAPKs in the Leishmania pathogenesis, and suggest that the manipulation of these kinases may provide novel therapeutics for potential clinical applications.