All-trans-retinoic acid (RA), the major active metabolite of vitamin A, is a regulator of gene expression with many roles in cell differentiation. In the present study, we investigated RA in the regulation of MafB, a basic leucine-zipper transcription factor with broad roles in embryonic development, hematopoiesis and monocyte-macrophage differentiation. In RA-treated THP-1 human monocytic cells, MafB mRNA and protein levels were up-regulated by RA dose and time-dependently, while, additionally, RA and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)α, also known to induce monocyte to macrophage differentiation, increased MafB expression synergistically. Screening of potential targets containing Maf recognition elements (MARE motifs) in their promoter regions identified SPOCK1, Blimp1 and CCL2 as potential targets; these genes are related to cell communication, recruitment and differentiation, respectively. Across cell treatments, SPOCK1, Blimp1 and CCL2 mRNA levels were highly correlated (P<0.001) with MafB. ChIP assays demonstrated increased MafB protein binding to MARE elements in the promoter regions of SPOCK1, Blimp1 and CCL2 in RA and TNFα-treated cells, as well as acetylation of histone-H4 in MARE-containing regions, indicative of chromatin activation. Conversely, reducing MafB protein by microRNA silencing significantly decreased the expression of SPOCK1, Blimp1 and CCL2 (P<0.01). Moreover, the reduction in MafB expression and these downstream targets correlated with decreased cell differentiation as determined by cell-surface CD11b expression and phagocytic activity. We conclude that MafB may be a key factor in mediating the ability of RA and TNFα to regulate monocytic cell communication, recruitment and differentiation through regulation of MafB target genes including SPOCK1, CCL2 and Blimp1.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cell Biology