The transcription factor cAMP-response element binding protein 2 (CREB2), a member of the family of basic region leucine zipper proteins, has been suggested to function in the brain as a repressor of long-term memory. Using recombinant proteins we show that CREB2 binds in vitro to the palindromic cAMP response element derived from the secretogranin II gene. Recent studies of the chromogranin B, secretogranin II and enkephalin genes showed that CREB2 functioned as a repressor of cAMP-induced transcription. We analyzed the ability of CREB2 to repress transcription using model promoters. A molecular dissection of the CREB2 molecule revealed that CREB2 lacks a transferable repressor domain suggesting that CREB2 may function solely as a "passive" transcriptional repressor. In contrast, "active" repressor domains derived from the thyroid hormone receptor alpha or the NK10 zinc finger protein containing a "Krüppel associated box" could be transfered to a heterologous DNA-binding domain and functioned as fusion proteins in repressing transcription of a reporter gene. In addition, a strong activation domain located at the N-terminus was identified in the CREB2 protein suggesting that CREB2 may act as an activator of transcription by binding to different genetic regulatory elements.