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Gene. 2006 Aug 1;377:130-9. Epub 2006 Jun 5.

T-box proteins differentially activate the expression of the endogenous interferon gamma gene versus transfected reporter genes in non-immune cells.

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Department of Biochemistry, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, State University of New York at Buffalo, NY 14214, USA.


The T-box transcription factor T-bet is expressed in a number of hematopoetic cell types and plays an essential role in the lineage determination of Th1 T-helper cells. In the absence of T-bet, CD4(+) T-cells fail to induce IFNgamma, the cytokine whose expression characterizes Th1 cells. Here we show that, surprisingly, T-bet induces the expression of endogenous IFNgamma in non-immune human cells, including 293 and other cell lines. Thus T-bet can induce IFNgamma expression independently of its role in T-cell lineage determination. In addition, mutations in T-bet, and chimeras of T-bet with other transcription factors including the T-box transcription factor, TBX2, differentially affect the ability of T-bet to activate expression of endogenous IFNgamma versus a T-site regulated reporter gene. A truncated T-betVp16 fusion protein strongly activates the T-site reporter but fails to activate endogenous IFNgamma. Conversely, native T-bet strongly activates endogenous IFNgamma expression but only weakly activates the reporter gene. Fusion of the Vp16 activation domain to full-length T-bet greatly increases its activation of both endogenous IFNgamma and transfected T-site reporter gene expression. In contrast, TBX2Vp16 potently activates the T-site reporter but has a negligible effect on endogenous IFNgamma expression. Butyrate treatment of T-bet expressing cells potentiates the expression of endogenous IFNgamma but weakly represses expression of the T-site reporter gene. These data indicate that induction of endogenous IFNgamma can be uncoupled from differentiation into the Th1 lineage and that the expression of endogenous IFNgamma versus a T-site reporter gene is differentially regulated by T-bet and other T-box proteins.

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