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J Biol Chem. 2001 Sep 14;276(37):34509-16. Epub 2001 Jul 3.

Silencer activity of NFATc2 in the interleukin-12 receptor beta 2 proximal promoter in human T helper cells.

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  • 1Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Department of Cell Biology and Histology, P. O. Box 22700, 1100 DE Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Interleukin 12 (IL-12) is a potent enhancer of interferon gamma production by activated T cells. The high-affinity IL-12 receptor (IL-12R) is a heterodimer of a beta1 and a beta2 subunit. Expression of the signaling IL-12Rbeta2 chain is usually low, as compared with the more abundant beta1 chain, and may be rate-limiting for IL-12 sensitivity. Little is known about the mechanisms controlling IL-12Rbeta2 gene expression. Reporter gene assays in IL-12Rbeta2-expressing Jurkat cells showed that truncation of the region from -151 to -61 abrogated promoter activity. The proximal promoter region does not contain a typical TATA box, suggesting a role for SP-1. Indeed, mutagenesis of the -63 SP-1 consensus site decreased transcription by 50%. Electrophoretic mobility shift experiments confirmed the binding of SP-1 and SP-3 at this site. In contrast, truncation of -252 to -192 increased promoter activity. Likewise, mutagenesis of the consensus nuclear factor of activated T cells site at -206 increased promoter activity by 70%, suggesting silencer activity of this element. Electrophoretic mobility shift experiments with primary Th (T helper) cells showed the formation of a specific, T-cell receptor-inducible complex at this site that is sensitive to cyclosporin A and supershifted with anti-NFATc2 in both Th1 and Th2 cells. Accordingly, cyclosporin A dose-dependently increased IL-12Rbeta2 mRNA expression. These first data on IL-12Rbeta2 gene regulation indicate a TATA-less promoter, depending on SP-1/SP-3 transcription factors, and a negative regulatory NFAT element at -206. This element may contribute to the overall low level of IL-12Rbeta2 expression on Th cells.

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