SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV) causes inflammation and damage to the lungs resulting in severe acute respiratory syndrome. To evaluate the molecular mechanisms behind this event, we investigated the roles of SARS-CoV proteins in regulation of the proinflammatory factor, cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2). Individual viral proteins were tested for their abilities to regulate COX-2 gene expression. Results showed that the COX-2 promoter was activated by the nucleocapsid (N) protein in a concentration-dependent manner. Western blot analysis indicated that N protein was sufficient to stimulate the production of COX-2 protein in mammalian cells. COX-2 promoter mutations suggested that activation of COX-2 transcription depended on two regulatory elements, a nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-kappaB) binding site, and a CCAAT/enhancer binding protein (C/EBP) binding site. Electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA) and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) demonstrated that SARS-CoV N protein bound directly to these regulatory sequences. Protein mutation analysis revealed that a Lys-rich motif of N protein acted as a nuclear localization signal and was essential for the activation of COX-2. In addition, a Leu-rich motif was found to be required for the N protein function. A sequence of 68 residuals was identified as a potential DNA-binding domain essential for activating COX-2 expression. We propose that SARS-CoV N protein causes inflammation of the lungs by activating COX-2 gene expression by binding directly to the promoter resulting in inflammation through multiple COX-2 signaling cascades.
Gravin, a multivalent A-kinase anchoring protein (AKAP), localizes to the cell periphery in several cell types and is postulated to target PKA and other binding partners to the plasma membrane. An N-terminal myristoylation sequence and three regions rich in basic amino acids are proposed to mediate this localization. Reports indicating that phorbol ester affects the distribution of SSeCKS, the rat orthologue of gravin, further suggest that PKC may also regulate the subcellular distribution of gravin, which in turn may affect PKA distribution. In this study, quantitative confocal microscopy of cells expressing full-length and mutant gravin-EGFP constructs lacking the proposed targeting domains revealed that either the N-myristoylation site or the polybasic regions were sufficient to target gravin to the cell periphery. Moreover, phorbol ester treatment induced redistribution of gravin-EGFP from the cell periphery to a juxtanuclear vesicular compartment, but this required the presence of the N-myristoylation site. Confocal microscopy further revealed that not only did gravin-EGFP target a PKA RII-ECFP construct to the cell periphery, but PKC activation resulted in redistribution of the gravin and PKA constructs to the same subcellular site. It is postulated that this dynamic response by gravin to PKC activity may mediate PKC dependent control of PKA activity.
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