Compelling evidence indicates a crucial role of prostaglandin F2α (PGF2α) in parturition. Both the maternal and fetal sides of the fetal membranes synthesize PGF2α, which exerts effects via the prostaglandin F2α receptor (FP) that is coupled to the activation of protein kinase C (PKC). Cyclooxygenase- 2 (COX-2) catalyzes the rate-limiting step of the inducible synthesis of prostaglandin. Although activation of PKC is known to induce COX-2 expression, it is not clear whether PGF2α can induce COX-2 via FP receptor-coupled PKC activation. COX-2 promoter carries a cAMP-response element (CRE) and phosphorylation of CRE binding protein 1 (CREB1) is associated with COX-2 expression in human amnion fibroblasts. We demonstrated that human amnion fibroblasts produced PGF2α and expressed FP receptor. PGF2α increased COX-2 expression and CREB1 phosphorylation, which could be blocked by either the FP receptor antagonist AL8810 or PKC inhibitor Ro31-7549. The PKC activator, phorbol-12-myristate-13-acetate (PMA), could mimic the induction of COX-2 and CREB1 phosphorylation. The induction of COX-2 by PGF2α and PMA could be attenuated by the small interfering RNA-mediated knockdown of CREB1 expression or overexpressing dominant-negative CREB1. A chromatin immunoprecipitation assay showed that the binding of CREB1 to the COX-2 promoter was increased by PGF2α and PMA in amnion fibroblasts. In conclusion, we provide evidence that PGF2α induces COX-2 expression via the FP receptor and phosphorylates CREB1 by PKC, thus increasing CREB1 binding to the COX-2 promoter and the expression of COX-2 in human amnion fibroblasts. This feed-forward loop may be crucial for the production of prostaglandins in the fetal membranes prior to the onset of labor.
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