University of Hertfordshire

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)667-676
JournalAmino Acids
Early online date13 Oct 2011
Publication statusPublished - 2012


Upregulation of l-arginine transport by pro-inflammatory mediators is a widely reported phenomenon which accompanies the expression of the inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) enzyme in various cells. Both processes require de novo protein synthesis which may be regulated differentially through diverging signalling pathways. This is particularly defined by observations that the glucocorticoid dexamethasone, acting potentially through NF-κB, selectively blocks the expression of iNOS whilst having little or no effect on transport; suggesting that this ubiquitous transcription factor may not be required for induced transporter activity. This notion is however controversial as is the suggestion that dexamethasone may regulate iNOS expression exclusively through NF-κB. Thus, to further understand the mechanisms that control these processes, we have examined the level at which dexamethasone acts, investigating whether this involves NF-κB and whether the latter selectively regulates iNOS induction. Our current data directly demonstrate that induced l-arginine transport is critically dependent on the activation of NF-κB, and further confirmed its role in the induction of iNOS in rat aortic smooth muscle cells. More importantly, dexamethasone enhanced both iNOS and CAT gene expression but repressed iNOS protein with no noticeable effects on transporter function or indeed NF-κB activation. These novel and unexpected findings reflect the complex nature of the regulation of iNOS by glucocorticoids and prove, contrary to previous assumptions, that dexamethasone can regulate CAT gene expression despite failing to alter transporter function. Moreover, the effects of dexamethasone occur through a non-NF-κB-mediated action even though NF-κB is required for both processes.

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