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Mol Cell Biol. 1988 Sep;8(9):3820-6.

Regulation of 4F2 heavy-chain gene expression during normal human T-cell activation can be mediated by multiple distinct molecular mechanisms.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48109.


The 4F2 molecule belongs to the set of cell surface antigens which is induced following lectin- or antigen-mediated T-cell activation. The increase in 4F2 cell surface expression following lectin-mediated stimulation has been shown to be accompanied by a parallel increase in the steady-state levels of 4F2 heavy-chain (4F2HC) mRNA. The studies described in this report were designed to further elucidate the molecular mechanisms responsible for induction of 4F2HC gene expression following activation of normal resting human peripheral blood T cells. The low levels of mature 4F2HC mRNA in resting T cells were shown to be the result of a block to transcription elongation within the exon 1-intron 1 region of the 4F2HC gene rather than promoter inactivity. Phorbol myristate acetate stimulation of resting T cells resulted in a 20-fold increase in steady-state 4F2HC mRNA levels which was mediated by removal of this block to transcription elongation. The phorbol myristate acetate-induced increase in 4F2HC gene expression is distinct from previously described AP-1-mediated, phorbol ester-induced gene expression in that it requires new protein synthesis. Treatment of resting T cells with ionomycin plus PMA resulted in a 60-fold increase in 4F2HC mRNA levels. This induction was mediated by both an increase in promoter utilization and removal of the block to transcription elongation. Finally, by increasing the half-life of 4F2HC mRNA, cycloheximide treatment of resting T cells induced an approximately five fold increase in the levels of 4F2HC gene expression, although the physiologic significance of this mechanism remains unclear. These results demonstrate that the level of 4F2HC gene expression in normal peripheral blood T cells can be regulated by at least three distinct molecular pathways: (i) changes in promoter utilization, (ii) modulation of a block to transcription elongation, and (iii) alteration in mRNA stability.

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