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J Biol Chem. 2011 Jun 10;286(23):20880-91. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.231548. Epub 2011 Apr 12.

Mouse Rankl expression is regulated in T cells by c-Fos through a cluster of distal regulatory enhancers designated the T cell control region.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.


Receptor activator of NF-κB ligand (Rankl) is a TNF-like factor that induces the formation of osteoclasts responsible for bone resorption. Although T cell activation up-regulates this gene, the molecular mechanism of its transcriptional control remains unknown. We used ChIP-chip analysis in mouse primary T cells and a T cell hybridoma to define the regulatory enhancers responsible for this up-regulation and to characterize their properties. Elevated H3/H4 acetylation and increased RNA polymerase II density were evident at mRL-D5, a known enhancer located 76 kb upstream of the TSS, as well as at a cluster of regulatory sites located even further upstream between -123 to -156 kb, termed the T cell control region (TCCR). Based upon the ability of calcium signaling and MAPK inhibitors to block Rankl expression, we conducted further ChIP-chip analysis of the transcriptional mediators c-Fos, NF-κB, and Nfat. T cell activation induced c-Fos binding at the mRL-D5 enhancer and within the TCCR. The interaction of NF-κB was observed at the transcriptional start site and at mRL-D5. Both mRL-D5 and segments of the TCCR exhibited robust transcriptional activity in reporter assays, and site-specific mutagenesis of c-Fos and Nfat elements abrogated reporter activity, suggesting a role for both factors in the control of enhancer-mediated Rankl transcription. Finally, chromosome conformation capture analysis confirmed that mRL-D5 and segments of the TCCR were located in proximity to the Rankl gene promoter and thus potentially able to influence directly Rankl gene promoter activity. We conclude that both mRL-D5 and the TCCR represent control segments that play an integral role in Rankl expression in T cells.

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