OSM (oncostatin M) is a pleiotropic cytokine belonging to the IL (interleukin) 6 family that modulates the growth of some cancer cell lines. We have found that PMA treatment of human U937 lymphoma cells increased the steady-state levels of OSM mRNA. Furthermore, the half-life of OSM mRNA was increased from 2.3 to 6.2 h. Measurement of mRNA/hnRNA (heterogeneous nuclear RNA) ratios in PMA-treated cells suggests further that the increase in OSM mRNA is due to enhanced mRNA stability. Consistent with this, synthetic OSM mRNA transcripts decayed faster in extracts of untreated U937 cells than in extracts of PMA-treated cells. The 3′-untranslated region of OSM mRNA contains a putative ARE (AU-rich element) that may play a role in mRNA stabilization. Addition of the OSM ARE motif to the 3′-end of β-globin mRNA increased its decay rate in vitro. Decay assays with β-globin–AREOSM and β-globin transcripts indicate that PMA induces mRNA stabilization in an ARE-dependent manner. PMA also induces at least five OSM ARE-binding proteins. Supershift assays indicated that HuR is present in PMA-induced OSM mRNA–protein complexes. PMA treatment appears to induce translocation of HuR from the nucleus to the cytoplasm. RNA-decay assays indicated that HuR stabilizes OSM RNA in vitro. Additionally, immunodepletion of HuR from U937 cell extracts led to more rapid decay of OSM transcripts. Collectively, these findings suggest that the ARE plays a role in PMA-induced stabilization of OSM mRNA and that this process involves multiple ARE-binding proteins, including HuR.

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