Expression of the c-fos, c-myc, and c-fms proto-oncogenes has been studied in thioglycollate-elicited murine peritoneal macrophages after exposure to lipopolysaccharide (LPS). After incubation with LPS (20 ng/ml), a transient and rapid induction of the expression of c-fos and c-myc oncogenes could be observed, whereas the RNA levels for c-fms were not affected. Treatment with lipid A, the active moiety of the LPS molecule, increased the c-fos and c-myc expression to a comparable degree. Similar induction of c-fos and c-myc was observed after treatment with phorbol myristate acetate, suggesting that this effect of LPS on murine macrophages might be mediated through stimulation of protein kinase C. Under similar experimental conditions, LPS treatment of macrophages did not trigger DNA synthesis. Treatment with LPS blocked DNA synthesis in macrophages treated with L cell-conditioned medium containing colony-stimulating factor. Thus changes in c-fos and c-myc expression may be elements in the complex series of biochemical events that contribute to macrophage activation and are not necessarily related to induction or priming for cellular proliferation.

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