TNF-α induces MUC1 gene transcription in lung epithelial cells: Its signaling pathway and biological implication

Takeshi Koga, Ippei Kuwahara, Erik P. Lillehoj, Wenju Lu, Takeshi Miyata, Yoichiro Isohama, K. Chul Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


The current study was conducted to elucidate the mechanism through which TNF-α stimulates expression of MUC1, a membrane-tethered mucin. A549 human lung alveolar cells treated with TNF-α exhibited significantly higher MUC1 protein levels in detergent lysates compared with cells treated with vehicle alone. Increased MUC1 protein levels were correlated with significantly higher levels of MUC1 mRNA in TNF-α-treated cells compared with controls. However, TNF-α did not alter MUC1 transcript stability, implying increased de novo transcription induced by the cytokine. TNF-α increased MUC1 gene promoter activity in A549 cells transfected with a promoter-luciferase reporter plasmid. Both U0126, an inhibitor of MEK1/2, and dominant negative ERK1 prevented TNF-α-induced MUC1 promoter activation, and anti-TNFR1 antibody blocked TNF-α-stimulated ERK1/2 activation. MUC1 promoter activation by TNF-α also was blocked by mithramycin A, an inhibitor of Sp1, as well as either deletion or mutation of a putative Sp1 binding site in the MUC1 promoter located between nucleotides -99 and -90. TNF-α-stimulated binding of Sp1 to the MUC1 promoter in intact cells was demonstrated by chromatin immunoprecipitation assay. We conclude that TNF-α induces MUC1 gene transcription through a TNFR1 → MEK1/2 → ERK1 → Sp1 pathway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L693-L701
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Mitogen-activated protein kinase
  • Sp1
  • Tumor necrosis factor-α

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'TNF-α induces MUC1 gene transcription in lung epithelial cells: Its signaling pathway and biological implication'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this