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Immunity. 1998 Feb;8(2):157-66.

Activation of the MHC class II transactivator CIITA by interferon-gamma requires cooperative interaction between Stat1 and USF-1.

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Louis Jeantet Laboratory of Molecular Genetics, Department of Genetics and Microbiology, University of Geneva Medical School, Switzerland.


CIITA is the mediator of MHC class II gene induction by interferon-gamma (IFNgamma). The CIITA gene is itself selectively activated via one of its four promoters (PIV). We show here that three cis-acting elements, the GAS, the E box, and the IRF-1-binding site, as well as the transacting factors Stat1 and IRF-1, are essential for activation of CIITA promoter IV by IFNgamma. Stat1 binds to the GAS site only in the presence of the ubiquitous factor USF-1, which binds to the adjacent E box. Indeed, Stat1 and USF-1 bind to the GAS/E box motif in a cooperative manner. The specificity for CIITA activation by IFNgamma is thus dictated by the GAS/E box motif and by the selective interaction of IFNgamma-activated Stat1 and USF-1. This clarifies the missing link in the overall pathway of IFNgamma activation of MHC-II expression.

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