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Prolonged TNFα primes fibroblast-like synoviocytes in a gene-specific manner by altering chromatin.

Sohn C, Lee A, Qiao Y, Loupasakis K, Ivashkiv LB, Kalliolias GD

Objective: During the course of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS) are chronically exposed to an inflammatory milieu. In the current study we test the hypothesis that chronic exposure of FLS to TNFα augments inflammatory responses to secondary stimuli (priming effect). Methods: FLS obtained from RA patients were chronically exposed to TNFα (3 days) and then were stimulated with interferons (IFNs). Expression of IFN-target genes was measured by real-time quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Total STAT1 protein and IFN-mediated STAT1 activation were evaluated by Western blotting. Total histone levels, histone acetylation, NF-κB p65 and RNA polymerase II (pol II) recruitment were measured at the promoter of CXCL10 (encodes IP-10) by chromatin immunoprecipitation assays. Results: Prolonged pre-exposure of FLS to TNFα enhanced the magnitude and extended the kinetics of CXCL10/IP-10, CXCL9/MIG and CXCL11/ITAC production upon subsequent IFN stimulation. This phenotype was retained over a period of days even after the removal of TNFα. Prolonged TNFα decreased histone levels, increased acetylation of the remaining histones, and heightened recruitment of NF-κB p65 and pol II to the CXCL10 promoter. In parallel, an increase in intracellular STAT1 led to amplification of IFN-induced STAT1 activation. Conclusions: Our study reveals a novel pathogenic function of TNFα, namely prolonged and gene-specific priming of FLS for enhanced transcription of inflammatory chemokine genes due to priming of chromatin, sustained activation of NF-κB, and amplification of STAT1 activation downstream of IFNs. These data also suggest that FLS gain an "inflammatory memory" upon chronic exposure to TNFα. © 2014 American College of Rheumatology.

Chromatin Shearing

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January, 2015


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