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Oncogene. 1997 Jun 12;14(23):2845-55.

ETS1, NFkappaB and AP1 synergistically transactivate the human GM-CSF promoter.

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Molecular Genetics and Development Group, Institute of Reproduction and Development, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.


Activation of helper T cells results in coordinate expression of a number of cytokines involved in differentiation, proliferation and activation of the haematopoietic system. Granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) is one such cytokine, whose increased expression results mostly from increases in transcription. Cis-acting elements with NFkappaB, AP1 and ETS-like binding motifs have been identified in the promoter region of the GM-CSF gene, and are important or essential for transcriptional activity following T cell activation. ETS1 is a transcription factor of the ETS family that is expressed in T cells. We have previously shown that ETS1 can transactivate GM-CSF in Jurkat T cells, but only after the cells have been stimulated by treatment with PMA and ionomycin, agents that mimic T cell activation. Thus we proposed that ETS1, which is expressed constitutively in Jurkat cells, may act in concert with PMA/ionomycin inducible factors. Here we show that ETS1 can transactivate a GM-CSF reporter construct in unstimulated Jurkat cells, providing that either NFkappaB or AP1 transcription factors are supplied by co-transfection. We confirm that binding of endogenous NFkappaB and AP1 is induced following PMA/ionomycin treatment of T cells. Transactivation by ETS1, NFkappaB and AP1 is synergistic, and mutation of the individual binding sites reveals that the transcriptional activities of these factors are interdependent. Our results suggest that constitutive ETS1, and inducible NFkappaB and AP1, cooperate as part of a higher order transcriptional complex in activated T cells.

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