RNA Binding Protein Human Antigen R is Translocated in Astrocytes following Spinal Cord Injury and Promotes the Inflammatory Response

Academic Article


  • Inflammation plays a prominent role in the events following traumatic injury to the central nervous system (CNS). The initial inflammatory response is driven by mediators such as tumor necrosis factor α and interleukin 1β, which are produced by activated astrocytes and microglia at the site of injury. These factors are regulated post-transcriptionally by RNA binding proteins (RBP) that interact with adenylate and uridylate-rich elements (ARE) in the 3′-untranslated region of the messenger RNA (mRNA). Human antigen R (HuR) is one of these RBPs and generally functions as a positive regulator of ARE-containing mRNAs. Here, we hypothesized that HuR plays an important role in the induction of cytokine and chemokines in astrocytes following traumatic injury. Using a mouse model of spinal cord injury, we found HuR to be extensively translocated to the cytoplasm in astrocytes at the level of injury, consistent with its activation. In an in vitro stretch injury model of CNS trauma, we observed a similar cytoplasmic shift of HuR in astrocytes and an attenuation of cytokine induction with HuR knockdown. RNA kinetics and luciferase assays suggested that the effect was more related to transcription than RNA destabilization. A small molecule inhibitor of HuR suppressed cytokine induction of injured astrocytes and reduced chemoattraction for neutrophils and microglia. In summary, HuR is activated in astrocytes in the early stages of CNS trauma and positively regulates the molecular response of key inflammatory mediators in astrocytes. Our findings suggest that HuR may be a therapeutic target in acute CNS trauma for blunting secondary tissue injury triggered by the inflammatory response.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Kwan T; Floyd CL; Kim S; King PH
  • Start Page

  • 1249
  • End Page

  • 1259
  • Volume

  • 34
  • Issue

  • 6