Although tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and interleukin 1 (IL-1) affect many cell functions, the molecular mechanisms of TNF and IL-1 action are not understood. Our present study shows that exposure of human FS-4 fibroblasts to TNF or IL-1 caused a rapid accumulation of intracellular cAMP and an increase in protein kinase activity. Intracellular cAMP levels peaked 3-5 min after the addition of TNF or IL-1 and returned to basal level by 15 min. Increased phosphorylation of histone HII-B protein was demonstrated with extracts prepared from TNF- or IL-1-treated cells, suggesting an increase in cAMP-dependent protein kinase activity. No evidence was obtained for protein kinase C activation in TNF-treated FS-4 cells. TNF, IL-1, and forskolin all stimulated interleukin 6 (IL-6) mRNA levels in FS-4 cells. The protein kinase inhibitor H-8, inhibiting preferentially cAMP-dependent kinase activity, reduced forskolin-stimulated IL-6 mRNA induction more strongly than TNF- or IL-1-driven IL-6 mRNA induction. These results suggest that activation of cAMP-dependent protein kinase by TNF and IL-1 is important in some actions of these cytokines. In addition, our data on IL-6 induction by TNF and IL-1 suggest that other, yet unidentified, signal transduction mechanisms contribute to TNF and IL-1 actions on gene expression in human fibroblasts
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