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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000 Apr 11;97(8):3919-24.

Glucocorticoids repress NF-kappaB-driven genes by disturbing the interaction of p65 with the basal transcription machinery, irrespective of coactivator levels in the cell.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology and University of Gent, K. L. Ledeganckstraat 35, 9000 Gent, Belgium.


Glucocorticoids (GCs) are used to combat inflammatory diseases. Their beneficial effect relies mainly on the inhibition of NF-kappaB- and/or AP-1-driven proinflammatory gene expression. Previously, we have shown that GCs repress tumor necrosis factor-induced IL-6 gene expression by an NF-kappaB-dependent nuclear mechanism without changing the DNA-binding capacity of NF-kappaB or the expression levels of the cytoplasmic inhibitor of NF-kappaB (IkappaB-alpha). In the present work, we investigate the effect of GC repression on different natural and/or recombinant NF-kappaB-driven reporter gene constructs in the presence of increasing amounts of various coactivator molecules, such as CREB-binding protein (CBP), p300, and SRC-1. We found that GCs maintain their repressive capacities, irrespective of the amount of cofactor present in the cell. Similar results were obtained for the reciprocal transrepression of a GC receptor (GR) element-driven reporter gene by p65. We demonstrate that neither the expression levels of p65 and CBP nor their physical association are affected by activated GR. Using Gal4 chimeras, we show that repression by GCs is specific for p65-mediated transactivation, ruling out competition for limiting nuclear factors as the major underlying mechanism of gene repression. In addition, the transactivation potential of a point-mutated Gal4-p65 variant with a decreased CBP interaction capability is still repressed by GR. Finally, we present evidence that the specificity of GC repression on p65-driven gene expression is codetermined by the TATA box context.

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