Tumor necrosis factor α inhibits erythroid differentiation in human erythropoietin-dependent cells involving p38 MAPK pathway, GATA-1 and FOG-1 downregulation and GATA-2 upregulation

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The proinflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα) has been linked to inflammation- and cancer-related anemia, which reduces both quality of life and prognosis of patients. The aim of this study was to reveal molecular mechanisms linked to the inhibition of erythroid differentiation by TNFα. In this study, we showed that the inhibition of erythropoietin (Epo)-mediated differentiation by TNFα lead to a downregulation of hemoglobin synthesis and was correlated to a modulation of key erythroid transcription factors. Thus, a reverse of the transcription factor GATA-1/GATA-2 balance normally present during erythropoiesis, as well as a downregulation of the cofactor of GATA-1, friend of GATA-1 (FOG-1), and the coregulating transcription factor nuclear factor erythroid 2 (NF-E2) was observed after TNFα treatment. Moreover, we showed a reduction of GATA-1/FOG-1 interaction due to a reduced transcription of GATA-1 and a proteasome-dependent FOG-1 degradation after TNFα treatment. These changes led to an inhibition of erythroid gene expression including Epo receptor (EpoR), α- and γ-globin, erythroid-associated factor (ERAF), hydroxymethylbilane synthetase (HMBS), and glycophorin A (GPA). An analysis of distinct signaling pathway activations then revealed an activation of p38 by TNF, as well as a corresponding involvement of this mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) in the cytokine-dependent inhibition of erythroid differentiation. Indeed the p38 inhibitor, SB203580, abrogated the inhibitory effect of TNFα on the major erythroid transcription factor GATA-1 as well as erythroid marker expression in Epo-induced TF-1 cells. Overall, these data contribute to a better understanding of cytokine-dependent anemia, by giving first hints about key erythroid transcription factor modulations after TNFα treatment as well as an involvement of p38 in the inhibition of erythroid differentiation.

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