IL-1F7b, a novel homologue of the IL-1 (interleukin 1) family, was discovered by computational cloning. We demonstrated that IL-1F7b shares critical amino acid residues with IL-18 and binds to the IL-18-binding protein enhancing its ability to inhibit IL-18-induced interferon-γ. We also showed that low levels of IL-1F7b are constitutively present intracellularly in human blood monocytes. In this study, we demonstrate that similar to IL-18, both mRNA and intracellular protein expression of IL-1F7b are up-regulated by LPS (lipopolysaccharide) in human monocytes. In stable transfectants of murine RAW264.7 macrophage cells, there was no IL-1F7b protein expression despite a highly active CMV promoter. We found that IL-1F7b-specific mRNA was rapidly degraded in transfected cells, via a 3′-UTR (untranslated region)-independent control of IL-1F7b transcript stability. After LPS stimulation, there was a rapid transient increase in IL-1F7b-specific mRNA and concomitant protein levels. Using sequence alignment, we found a conserved ten-nucleotide homology box within the open reading frame of IL-F7b, which is flanking the coding region instability elements of some selective genes. In-frame deletion of downstream exon 5 from the full-length IL-1F7b cDNA markedly increased the levels of IL-1F7b mRNA. A similar coding region element is located in IL-18. When transfected into RAW264.7 macrophages, IL-18 mRNA was also unstable unless treated with LPS. These results indicate that both IL-1F7b and IL-18 mRNA contain functional instability determinants within their coding region, which influence mRNA decay as a novel mechanism to regulate the expression of IL-1 family members.

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