Gene expression elicited by NFAT in the presence or absence of cooperative recruitment of Fos and Jun

EMBO J. 2000 Sep 1;19(17):4783-95. doi: 10.1093/emboj/19.17.4783.


Cooperation between nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT) and AP-1 (Fos-Jun) proteins on composite NFAT-AP-1 DNA elements constitutes a powerful mechanism for signal integration of the calcium and protein kinase C/Ras pathways in the regulation of gene expression. Here we report that NFAT can induce expression of certain genes in T cells without the need for cooperative recruitment of Fos and Jun. Using NFAT1 mutant proteins that are unable to interact with Fos-Jun dimers but are unaffected in DNA binding or transcriptional activity, we show that expression of interleukin (IL)-2, granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), IL-3, IL-4, MIP1alpha and Fas ligand mRNAs is absolutely dependent on cooperation between NFAT and Fos-Jun; in contrast, NFAT induces tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha) mRNA and IL-13 promoter activity without any necessity to recruit Fos and Jun. Furthermore, we show that NFAT-Fos-Jun cooperation is also essential to elicit the NFAT-dependent program of activation-induced cell death. Our results support the hypothesis that even in a single cell type, NFAT activation can evoke two distinct biological programs of gene expression, dependent or independent of NFAT-AP-1 cooperation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Cell Line
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / chemistry
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • Gene Expression / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • NFATC Transcription Factors
  • Nuclear Proteins*
  • Point Mutation
  • Protein Binding
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos / chemistry
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-jun / chemistry
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-jun / metabolism*
  • Transcription Factors / chemistry
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / physiology*
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Cytokines
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • NFATC Transcription Factors
  • NFATC2 protein, human
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-jun
  • Transcription Factors