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Increased cAMP in monocytes augments Notch signaling mechanisms by elevating RBP-J and transducin-like enhancer of Split (TLE)

Larabee, JL;Shakir, SM;Barua, S;Ballard, JD;

In cells of the innate immune system, pathological increases in intracellular cAMP attenuate immune responses and contribute to infections by bacteria such as Bacillus anthracis. In this work, cAMP from B. anthracis edema toxin (ET) is found to activate the Notch signaling pathway in both mouse macrophages and human monocytes. ET as well as a cell-permeable activator of PKA induce Notch target genes (HES1, HEY1, IL2RA, and IL7R) and are able to significantly enhance the induction of these Notch target genes by a Toll-like receptor ligand. Elevated cAMP also resulted in increased levels of Groucho/transducin-like enhancer of Split (TLE) and led to increased amounts of a transcriptional repressor complex consisting of TLE and the Notch target Hes1. To address the mechanism used by ET to activate Notch signaling, components of Notch signaling were examined, and results revealed that ET increased levels of recombinant recognition sequence binding protein at the J site (RBP-J), a DNA binding protein and principal transcriptional regulator of Notch signaling. Overexpression studies indicated that RBP-J was sufficient to activate Notch signaling and potentiate LPS-induced Notch signaling. Further examination of the mechanism used by ET to activate Notch signaling revealed that C/EBP , a transcription factor activated by cAMP, helped activate Notch signaling and up-regulated RBP-J. These studies demonstrate that cAMP activates Notch signaling and increases the expression of TLE, which could be an important mechanism utilized by cAMP to suppress immune responses.