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Genes Dev. 2005 May 1;19(9):1116-27.

The glucocorticoid receptor blocks P-TEFb recruitment by NFkappaB to effect promoter-specific transcriptional repression.

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Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, University of California-San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94107-2280, USA.


To investigate the determinants of promoter-specific gene regulation by the glucocorticoid receptor (GR), we compared the composition and function of regulatory complexes at two NFkappaB-responsive genes that are differentially regulated by GR. Transcription of the IL-8 and IkappaBalpha genes is stimulated by TNFalpha in A549 cells, but GR selectively represses IL-8 mRNA synthesis by inhibiting Ser2 phosphorylation of the RNA polymerase II (pol II) C-terminal domain (CTD). The proximal kappaB elements at these genes differ in sequence by a single base pair, and both recruited RelA and p50. Surprisingly, GR was recruited to both of these elements, despite the fact that GR failed to repress the IkappaBalpha promoter. Rather, the regulatory complexes formed at IL-8 and IkappaBalpha were distinguished by differential recruitment of the Ser2 CTD kinase, P-TEFb. Disruption of P-TEFb function by the Cdk-inhibitor, DRB, or by small interfering RNA selectively blocked TNFalpha stimulation of IL-8 mRNA production. GR competed with P-TEFb recruitment to the IL-8 promoter. Strikingly, IL-8 mRNA synthesis was repressed by GR at a post-initiation step, demonstrating that promoter proximal regulatory sequences assemble complexes that impact early and late stages of mRNA synthesis. Thus, GR accomplishes selective repression by targeting promoter-specific components of NFkappaB regulatory complexes.

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