The innate immune response is characterized by activation of transcription factors, nuclear factor kappa B and activator protein-1 and their downstream targets, the pro-inflammatory cytokines including interleukin 1? and interleukin 6. Normal development of this response in the intestine is critical to survival of the human neonate and delays can cause the onset of devastating inflammatory diseases such as necrotizing enterocolitis. Previous studies have addressed the role of nuclear factor kappa B in the development of the innate immune response in the enterocyte, however despite its central role in the control of multiple proinflammatory cytokine genes, little is known on the role of Activator Protein 1 in this response in the enterocyte. Here we show that the canonical Activator Protein 1 members, cJun and cFos and their upstream kinases JNK and p38 play an essential role in the regulation of interleukin 6 in the immature enterocyte. Our data supports a model whereby the cFos/cJun heterodimer and the more potent cJun homodimer downstream of JNK are replaced by less efficient JunD containing dimers, contributing to the decreased responsiveness to interleukin 1? and decreased interleukin 6 secretion observed in the mature enterocyte. The tissue specific expression of JunB in colonocytes and colon derived tissues together with its ability to repress Interleukin-1? induction of an Interleukin-6 gene reporter in the NCM-460 colonocyte suggests that induction of JunB containing dimers may offer an attractive therapeutic strategy for the control of IL-6 secretion during inflammatory episodes in this area of the intestine.
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