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J Immunol. 1998 Oct 1;161(7):3455-63.

Carboxyl-terminal 15-amino acid sequence of NFATx1 is possibly created by tissue-specific splicing and is essential for transactivation activity in T cells.

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  • 1Department of Cell Signaling, DNAX Research Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Palo Alto, CA 94304-1104, USA.


NFAT regulates transcription of a number of cytokine and other immunoregulatory genes. We have isolated NFATx, which is one of four members of the NFAT family of transcription factors and is preferentially expressed in the thymus and peripheral blood leukocytes, and an isoform of NFATx, NFATx1. Here we provide evidence showing that 15 amino acids in the carboxyl-terminal end of NFATx1 are required for its maximum transactivation activity in Jurkat T cells. A fusion between these 15 amino acids and the GAL4 DNA binding domain was capable of transactivating reporters driven by the GAL4 DNA binding site. Interestingly, this 15-amino acid transactivation sequence is well conserved in NFAT family proteins, although the sequences contiguous to the carboxyl-terminal regions of the NFAT family are much less conserved. We also report three additional isoforms of NFATx, designated NFATx2, NFATx3, and NFATx4. This transactivation sequence is altered by tissue-specific alternative splicing in newly isolated NFATx isoforms, resulting in lower transactivation activity in Jurkat T cells. NFATx1 is expressed predominantly in the thymus and peripheral blood leukocyte, while the skeletal muscle expressed primarily NFATx2. In Jurkat cells, transcription from the NFAT site of the IL-2 promoter is activated strongly by NFATx1 but only weakly by NFATx2. These data demonstrate that the 15-amino acid sequence of NFATx1 is a major transactivation sequence required for induction of genes by NFATx1 in T cells and possibly regulates NFAT activity through tissue-specific alternative splicing.

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