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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 Dec 10;93(25):14586-91.

Activation of transcription factor AP-2 mediates UVA radiation- and singlet oxygen-induced expression of the human intercellular adhesion molecule 1 gene.

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  • 1Clinical and Experimental Photodermatology, Department of Dermatology, Düsseldorf, Germany.


UVA radiation is the major component of the UV solar spectrum that reaches the earth, and the therapeutic application of UVA radiation is increasing in medicine. Analysis of the cellular effects of UVA radiation has revealed that exposure of human cells to UVA radiation at physiological doses leads to increased gene expression and that this UVA response is primarily mediated through the generation of singlet oxygen. In this study, the mechanisms by which UVA radiation induces transcriptional activation of the human intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1) were examined. UVA radiation was capable of inducing activation of the human ICAM-1 promoter and increasing ICAM-1 mRNA and protein expression. These UVA radiation effects were inhibited by singlet oxygen quenchers, augmented by enhancement of singlet oxygen life-time, and mimicked in unirradiated cells by a singlet oxygen-generating system. UVA radiation as well as singlet oxygen-induced ICAM-1 promoter activation required activation of the transcription factor AP-2. Accordingly, both stimuli activated AP-2, and deletion of the putative AP-2-binding site abrogated ICAM-1 promoter activation in this system. This study identified the AP-2 site as the UVA radiation- and singlet oxygen-responsive element of the human ICAM-1 gene. The capacity of UVA radiation and/or singlet oxygen to induce human gene expression through activation of AP-2 indicates a previously unrecognized role of this transcription factor in the mammalian stress response.

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