Expression of the α5 integrin gene in corneal epithelial cells cultured on tissue-engineered human extracellular matrices.
Type II collagen is composed of alpha1(II) chains encoded by the COL2A1 gene. Alteration of this cartilage marker is a common feature of osteoarthritis. Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is a pro-inflammatory cytokine that needs a soluble form of receptor called sIL-6R to exert its effects in some cellular models. In that case, sIL-6R exerts agonistic action. This mechanism can make up for the partial or total absence of membrane-anchored IL-6 receptors in some cell types, such as chondrocytes. Our study shows that IL-6, sIL-6R, or both inhibit type II collagen production by rabbit articular chondrocytes through a transcriptional control. The cytokine and/or sIL-6R repress COL2A1 transcription by a -63/-35 sequence that binds Sp1.Sp3. Indeed, IL-6 and/or sIL-6R inhibit Sp1 and Sp3 expression and their binding activity to the 63-bp promoter. In chromatin immunoprecipitation experiments, IL-6.sIL-6R induced an increase in Sp3 recruitment to the detriment of Sp1. Knockdown of Sp1.Sp3 by small interference RNA and decoy strategies were found to prevent the IL-6- and/or sIL-6R-induced inhibition of COL2A1 transcription, indicating that each of these Sp proteins is required for down-regulation of the target gene and that a heterotypic Sp1.Sp3 complex is involved. Additionally, Sp1 was shown to interact with Sp3 and HDAC1. Indeed, overexpression of a full-length Sp3 cDNA blocked the Sp1 up-regulation of the 63-bp COL2A1 promoter activity, and by itself, inhibits COL2A1 transcription. We can conclude that IL-6, sIL-6R, or both in combination decrease both the Sp1.Sp3 ratio and DNA-binding activities, thus inhibiting COL2A1 transcription.