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J Biol Chem. 2000 Aug 4;275(31):23627-35.

An essential role of the nuclear factor of activated T cells in the regulation of the expression of the cyclooxygenase-2 gene in human T lymphocytes.

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Centro de Biologia Molecular, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Cantoblanco, E-28049 Madrid, Spain.


We have previously reported that transcriptional induction of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) isoenzyme occurs early after T cell receptor triggering, suggesting functional implications of cyclooxygenase activity in this process. Here, we identify the cis-acting elements responsible for the transcriptional activation of this gene in human T lymphocytes. COX-2 promoter activity was induced upon T cell activation both in primary resting T lymphocytes and in Jurkat cells. This induction was abrogated by inhibition of calcineurin phosphatase with the immunosuppressive drug cyclosporin A, whereas expression of an active calcineurin catalytic subunit enhanced COX-2 transcriptional activation. Moreover, cotransfection of nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT) wild type protein transactivated COX-2 promoter activity. Conversely, dominant negative mutants of NFATc or c-Jun proteins inhibited COX-2 induction. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays and site-directed mutagenesis allowed the identification of two regions of DNA located in the positions -117 and -58 relative to the transcriptional start site that serves as NFAT recognition sequences. These results emphasize the central role that the Ca(2+)/calcineurin pathway plays in COX-2 transcriptional regulation in T lymphocytes pointing to NFAT/activator protein-1 transcription factors as essential for COX-2 promoter regulation in these cells.

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