PLoS One 2008 Feb 13;3(2):e1606. Epub 2008 Feb 13.
Division of Nutritional Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois, United States of America.
Macrophages are capable of assuming numerous phenotypes in order to adapt to endogenous and exogenous challenges but many of the factors that regulate this process are still unknown. We report that Ca(2+)/calmodulin-dependent kinase kinase alpha (CaMKKalpha) is expressed in human monocytic cells and demonstrate that its inhibition blocks type-II monocytic cell activation and promotes classical activation. Affinity chromatography with paramagnetic beads isolated an approximately 50 kDa protein from nuclear lysates of U937 human monocytic cells activated with phorbol-12-myristate-13-acetate (PMA). This protein was identified as CaMKKalpha by mass spectrometry and Western analysis. The function of CaMKKalpha in monocyte activation was examined using the CaMKKalpha inhibitors (STO-609 and forskolin) and siRNA knockdown. Inhibition of CaMKKalpha, enhanced PMA-dependent CD86 expression and reduced CD11b expression. In addition, inhibition was associated with decreased translocation of CaMKKalpha to the nucleus. Finally, to further examine monocyte activation profiles, TNFalpha and IL-10 secretion were studied. CaMKKalpha inhibition attenuated PMA-dependent IL-10 production and enhanced TNFalpha production indicating a shift from type-II to classical monocyte activation. Taken together, these findings indicate an important new role for CaMKKalpha in the differentiation of monocytic cells.