DNA-PKcs interacts with Aire and regulates the expression of toll-like receptors in RAW264.7 cells.
ABSTRACT The autoimmune regulator (Aire) is a key mediator of the central tolerance for peripheral tissue self-antigen (PTAs) and is involved in the transcriptional control of many antigens in thymic medullary epithelial cells (mTECs). However, the function of Aire in peripheral lymphoid tissues and haematopoietic cells, particularly in monocytes and macrophages, remains poorly understood. We previously found that the expression of Toll-like receptor (TLR) 1, TLR3 and TLR8 was notably upregulated in pEGFPC1/Aire stably transfected RAW264.7 (GFP-Aire/RAW) cells, while the expressions of other TLRs were not significantly changed. The mechanism by which Aire affects TLR1, TLR3 and TLR8 expression is not clear. Interactions with other proteins, such as DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK), are crucial for regulating the transcriptional activity of Aire. In this study, we found that Aire and DNA-PK catalytic subunit (DNA-PKcs) were co-located in the nucleus of GFP-Aire/RAW cells, and they interact with each other. Small interfering RNA knock-down of DNA-PKcs in these cells decreased the expression of TLR1, TLR3 and TLR8, but no change was observed in pEGFPC1 stably transfected RAW264.7 (GFP/RAW) cells. We did not observe any change in the expressions of other TLRs after DNA-PKcs knock-down in GFP-Aire/RAW or GFP/RAW cells. A similar observation has been made in pEGFPC1/Aire or pEGFPC1 transiently transfected primary peritoneal macrophages. Using a luciferase activity assay, we found the that the transcriptional activity of TLR1, TLR3 and TLR8 promoters was also decreased after knock-down of DNA-PKcs in GFP-Aire/RAW cells. In conclusion, our results suggest that DNA-PKcs may interact with Aire to promote the expression of TLRs in RAW264.7 cells.