Interleukin 1{beta} regulation of the system xc- substrate-specific subunit, xCT, in primary mouse astrocytes involves the RNA-binding protein HuR [Cell Biology]

November 24th, 2015 by Shi, J., He, Y., Hewett, S. J., Hewett, J. A.

System xc- is a heteromeric amino acid cystine/glutamate antiporter that is constitutively expressed by cells of the central nervous system (CNS), where it functions in the maintenance of intracellular glutathione and extracellular glutamate levels. We recently determined that the cytokine, IL-1β, increases the activity of system xc- in CNS astrocytes secondary to an upregulation of its substrate-specific light chain, xCT, and that this occurs, in part, at the level of transcription. However, an in silico analysis of the murine xCT 3'UTR identified numerous copies of adenine- and uridine-rich elements (AREs), raising the possibility that undefined trans-acting factors governing mRNA stability and translation may also contribute to xCT expression. Here we show that IL-1β increases the level of mRNA encoding xCT in primary cultures of astrocytes isolated from mouse cortex in association with an increase in xCT mRNA half-life. Additionally, IL-1β induces HuR translocation from the nucleus to the cytoplasm. RNA immunoprecipitation analysis reveals that HuR binds directly to the 3'UTR of xCT in an IL-1β-dependent manner. Knockdown of endogenous HuR protein abrogates the IL-1β- mediated increase in xCT mRNA half-life, whereas overexpression of HuR in unstimulated primary mouse astrocytes doubles the half-life of constitutive xCT mRNA. This latter effect is accompanied by an increase in xCT protein levels as well as a functional increase in system xc- activity. All together, these data support a critical role for HuR in mediating the IL-1β-induced stabilization of astrocyte xCT mRNA.
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