p38α regulates cytokine-induced IFNγ secretion via the Mnk1/eIF4E pathway in Th1 cells

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The p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway is involved in the regulation of immune and inflammatory processes. We used p38α-conditional, p38β-deficient and p38α/β double-null mouse models to address the role of these two p38 MAPK in CD4+ T cells, and found that p38α deficiency causes these cells to hyperproliferate. Our studies indicate that both p38α and p38β are dispensable for T helper cell type 1 (Th1) differentiation but, by controlling interferon (IFN)γ and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)α production, are critical for normal Th1 effector function. We found that both p38α and p38β modulate T-cell receptor-induced IFNγ and TNFα production, whereas only p38α regulates cytokine-induced IFNγ production. The lack of p38α and p38β did not affect transcription and mRNA stability ofIfng. However, the absence of p38α in Th1 cells resulted in a decreased MNK1 phosphorylation after cytokine activation, and MNK1 inhibition blocked IFNγ production. Our results indicate that p38α regulates IFNγ secretion through the activation of the MNK1/eIF4E pathway of translation initiation and identify specific functions for p38α and p38β in T-cell proliferation.

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