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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1993 Apr 1;90(7):2584-8.

Participation of the transcription factor C/EBP delta in the acute-phase regulation of the human gene for complement component C3.

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  • 1Institute for Molecular Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030.


C3, the third component of complement, is critical in the host immune response in that it is involved in both the classical and alternative pathways of complement activation. We have previously shown that a region (bp -127 to -70) within the C3 promoter is indispensable for conferring interleukin 1 (IL-1) responsiveness to this gene. A sequence comparison reveals two CCAAT/enhancer binding protein (C/EBP) consensus sequences, basic DNA binding region and leucine zippers 1 and 2 (bZIP1 and bZIP2), within this region. Site-directed mutagenesis of the more 3' C/EBP site (bZIP1) in the C3 promoter significantly reduced the basal level of expression and the IL-1 responsiveness of the reporter gene, whereas mutation in the second, more 5', C/EBP consensus sequence (bZIP2) had a minimal effect on basal expression and IL-1 inducibility. Electrophoretic-mobility-shift assays, with and without antibodies to the different C/EBP proteins that "supershift" protein-DNA complexes, demonstrated that proteins binding at the 3' C/EBP site formed several complexes. Antibodies to C/EBP alpha supershifted the majority of complexes formed with extracts from control cells. Antibodies directed against C/EBP delta supershifted the major IL-1-inducible complexes. Western immunoblot analyses showed that the level of C/EBP delta protein was increased dramatically in the nuclei of Hep 3B2 cells after 4 h of IL-1 treatment. When Hep 3B2 cells were cotransfected with a C/EBP delta expression vector and a construct with a C3 promoter and a reporter gene, C/EBP delta was able to trans-activate the C3 promoter in an IL-1-responsive manner. The data strongly suggest that C/EBP delta is the major protein responsible for regulating the acute-phase expression of the human C3 gene.

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