Expression of murine IL-12 is regulated by translational control of the p35 subunit.
Babik JM., Adams E., Tone Y., Fairchild PJ., Tone M., Waldmann H.
IL-12 is a heterodimer of two subunits, p35 and p40, encoded by separate genes that are regulated independently. To investigate the mechanisms underlying the regulation of the p35 gene, we characterized murine p35 expression in the B cell lymphoma line A20 and in bone marrow-derived dendritic cells. Multiple transcription start sites were identified in both cell types, resulting in four p35 mRNA isoforms (types I-IV) that differ in the number and position of upstream ATGs in their 5' untranslated regions. In nonstimulated cells, the predominant forms of p35 message (types II and IV) contained an additional upstream ATG, whose presence was shown to inhibit the downstream translation of the p35 subunit. After LPS stimulation, however, transcription initiated from alternate positions, so that the proportion of transcripts not containing this upstream ATG (types I and III) was significantly increased in the population of p35 mRNA. These type I and type III transcripts readily supported translation of the p35 subunit and its incorporation into bioactive IL-12. Furthermore, p35 mRNA levels were substantially up-regulated after LPS stimulation in both cell types. Thus, our results show that p35 gene expression is highly regulated by both transcriptional and translational mechanisms.