The protein phosphatase 1 and 2A inhibitor, okadaic acid, has been shown to stimulate many cellular functions by increasing the phosphorylation state of phosphoproteins. In human monocytes, okadaic acid by itself stimulates tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) mRNA accumulation and TNF-alpha synthesis. Calyculin A, a more potent inhibitor of phosphatase 1, has similar effects. TNF-alpha mRNA accumulation in okadaic acid-treated monocytes is due to increased TNF-alpha mRNA stability and transcription rate. The increase in TNF-alpha mRNA stability is more remarkable in okadaic acid-treated monocytes than the mRNA stability of other cytokines, such as interleukin 1 alpha (IL-1 alpha), IL-1 beta, and IL-6. Gel retardation studies show the stimulation of AP-1, AP-2, and NF-kappa B binding activities in okadaic acid-stimulated monocytes. This increase may correlate with the increase in TNF-alpha mRNA transcription rate. In addition to the stimulation of TNF-alpha secretion by monocytes, okadaic acid appears to modulate TNF-alpha precursor processing, as indicated by a marked increase in the cell-associated 26-kD precursor. These results suggest that active basal phosphorylation/dephosphorylation occurs in monocytes, and that protein phosphatase 1 or 2A is important in regulating TNF-alpha gene transcription, translation, and posttranslational modification.

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