Macrophages are highly plastic cells, responding to diverse environmental stimuli to acquire different functional phenotypes. Signaling through MAPKs has been reported to regulate the differentiation of macrophages, but the role of ERK5 in IL-4-mediated M2 macrophage differentiation is still unclear. Here, we showed that the ERK5 signaling pathway plays a critical role in IL-4-induced M2 macrophage differentiation. Pharmacologic inhibition of MEK5, an upstream activator of ERK5, markedly reduced the expression of classical M2 markers, such as Arg-1, Ym-1, and Fizz-1, as well as the production of M2-related chemokines and cytokines, CCL22, CCL17, and IGF-1 in IL-4-stimulated macrophages. Moreover, pharmacologic inhibition of ERK5 also decreased the expression of several M2 markers induced by IL-4. In accordance, myeloid cell-specific Erk5 depletion (Erk5∆mye ), using LysMcre /Erk5f/f mice, confirmed the involvement of ERK5 in IL-4-induced M2 polarization. Mechanistically, the inhibition of ERK5 did not affect STAT3 or STAT6 phosphorylation, suggesting that ERK5 signaling regulates M2 differentiation in a STAT3 and STAT6-independent manner. However, genetic deficiency or pharmacologic inhibition of the MEK5/ERK5 pathway reduced the expression of c-Myc in IL-4-activated macrophages, which is a critical transcription factor involved in M2 differentiation. Our study thus suggests that the MEK5/ERK5 signaling pathway is crucial in IL-4-induced M2 macrophage differentiation through the induction of c-Myc expression.
Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms
- Manchester Cancer Research Centre