We have reported previously that apoptosis of intestinal epithelial Caco-2 cells is induced by co-culturing with human macrophage-like THP-1 cells, mainly via the action of TNFα (tumour necrosis factor α) secreted from THP-1 cells [Satsu, Ishimoto, Nakano, Mochizuki, Iwanaga and Shimizu (2006) Exp. Cell Res. 312, 3909–3919]. Our recent DNA microarray analysis of co-cultured Caco-2 cells showed that IEX-1 (immediate early-response gene X-1) is the most significantly increased gene during co-culture [Ishimoto, Nakai, Satsu, Totsuka and Shimizu (2010) Biosci. Biotechnol. Biochem. 74, 437–439]. Hence, we investigated the role of IEX-1 in the co-culture-induced damage of Caco-2 cells. We showed that IEX-1 expression induced in Caco-2 cells was suppressed by anti-TNFα antibody treatment. Experiments using IEX-1-overexpressing and -knockdown Caco-2 cells suggested that IEX-1 was involved in the suppression of Caco-2 cell damage. Increases in caspase 3 activity and TNFR1 (TNF receptor 1) mRNA expression were shown in IEX-1-knockdown Caco-2 cells, suggesting that IEX-1 plays a role in the suppression of apoptosis and protects cells by controlling sensitivity to TNFα under both normal and inflammatory conditions.

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