The inhibitory effect of pertussis toxin on the action of IL-1 has been investigated. The toxin inhibited IL-1-induced production of IL-2 mRNA and protein in EL4 cells. The B oligomer of the toxin, which was shown to be devoid of ADP-ribosylating activity, proved as inhibitory as the holotoxin. The inhibition was therefore attributable to the binding subunit of the toxin and not to its ability to ADP-ribosylate G proteins. The toxin did not affect the IL-1R binding to its ligand, nor did it inhibit an early post-receptor event, the induction of the transcription factor NF kappa B. This implied that the toxin was not uncoupling IL-1R signaling. The toxin, or its B oligomer, inhibited PGE2 synthesis in human gingival fibroblasts stimulated by IL-1, but not by PMA. Assay of PG synthetic activity in the cells after addition of exogenous arachidonic acid suggested impairment by the toxin of induction of PG-synthesizing enzymes. IL-1 stimulation of IL-6 or collagenase production by fibroblasts was unaffected by pertussis toxin. The binding subunit of the toxin inhibits certain IL-1 responses by virtue of previously unrecognized actions on lymphoid and fibroblastic cells. It does not appear to block early signaling and the inhibition highly unlikely to involve inactivation of a G protein.

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