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J Biol Chem. 2002 Oct 4;277(40):36970-7. Epub 2002 Aug 2.

Synergistic transactivation of the differentiation-dependent lung gene Clara cell secretory protein (secretoglobin 1a1) by the basic region leucine zipper factor CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein alpha and the homeodomain factor Nkx2.1/thyroid transcription factor-1.

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Department of Medical Nutrition, Karolinska Institutet, Novum, SE-141 86 Huddinge, Sweden.


The basic region-leucine zipper transcription factor CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein alpha (C/EBPalpha) and the homeodomain transcription factor Nkx2.1/thyroid transcription factor-1 are essential for normal lung morphogenesis. Nkx2.1 is expressed from the onset of lung development, whereas C/EBPalpha expression is turned on at later stages. The expression of C/EBPalpha correlates to the appearance of lung-specific proteins with differentiation-dependent expression patterns, such as the Clara cell secretory protein (secretoglobin 1a1 (Scgb1a1), CCSP). In this study, we demonstrate synergistic transactivation by C/EBPalpha and Nkx2.1 in the regulation of the CCSP gene. We show that the synergistic activity of C/EBPalpha and Nkx2.1 originates from cis-acting elements in the proximal promoter of CCSP and that the synergism is dependent on NH(2)-terminal transactivation domains of C/EBPalpha and Nkx2.1. Our results suggest that the cooperation of C/EBPalpha and Nkx2.1 is a major determinant for the high level, lung epithelial-specific expression of CCSP during the later stages of lung development and in the adult lung.

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