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Transcriptional Regulation of Human Dual Specificity Protein Phosphatase 1 (DUSP1) Gene by Glucocorticoids



Glucocorticoids are potent anti-inflammatory agents commonly used to treat inflammatory diseases. They convey signals through the intracellular glucocorticoid receptor (GR), which upon binding to ligands, associates with genomic glucocorticoid response elements (GREs) to regulate transcription of associated genes. One mechanism by which glucocorticoids inhibit inflammation is through induction of the dual specificity phosphatase-1 (DUSP1, a.k.a. mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphatase-1, MKP-1) gene.

Methodology/principal findings

We found that glucocorticoids rapidly increased transcription of DUSP1 within 10 minutes in A549 human lung adenocarcinoma cells. Using chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) scanning, we located a GR binding region between -1421 and -1118 upstream of the DUSP1 transcription start site. This region is active in a reporter system, and mutagenesis analyses identified a functional GRE located between -1337 and -1323. We found that glucocorticoids increased DNase I hypersensitivity, reduced nucleosome density, and increased histone H3 and H4 acetylation within genomic regions surrounding the GRE. ChIP experiments showed that p300 was recruited to the DUSP1 GRE, and RNA interference experiments demonstrated that reduction of p300 decreased glucocorticoid-stimulated DUSP1 gene expression and histone H3 hyperacetylation. Furthermore, overexpression of p300 potentiated glucocorticoid-stimulated activity of a reporter gene containing the DUSP1 GRE, and this coactivation effect was compromised when the histone acetyltransferase domain was mutated. ChIP-reChIP experiments using GR followed by p300 antibodies showed significant enrichment of the DUSP1 GRE upon glucocorticoid treatment, suggesting that GR and p300 are in the same protein complex recruited to the DUSP1 GRE.


Our studies identified a functional GRE for the DUSP1 gene. Moreover, the transcriptional activation of DUSP1 by glucocorticoids requires p300 and a rapid modification of the chromatin structure surrounding the GRE. Overall, understanding the mechanism of glucocorticoid-induced DUSP1 gene transcription could provide insights into therapeutic approaches against inflammatory diseases.

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