Background: Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) plays a key role in human inflammatory disorders such as vascular inflammation. COX-2 promoter activity is induced by proinflammatory mediators, but the role of cyclic adenosine monophosphate response element (CRE) in promoter stimulation remains unclear.
Methods and results: Transient transfection of a 0.9-kb COX-2 promoter fragment bearing CRE mutation abrogated COX-2 promoter activity induced by proinflammatory mediators in human endothelial cells and fibroblasts. Dual mutations of CRE and an upstream CCAAT/enhancer binding protein (C/EBP) site did not have an additional effect. Binding of CREB-2, ATF-2, USF-2, and c-Jun transactivators to a wild-type and CRE-mutated oligonucleotide was analyzed by a novel DNA-binding assay. CREB-2 and ATF-2 in nuclear extracts of unstimulated endothelial cells bound to CRE, whereas USF-2 and c-Jun or c-Fos bound to non-CRE sites. CREB-2 and c-Fos binding was increased by phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate but not tumor necrosis factor-alpha. The binding assay and chromatin immunoprecipitation revealed binding of P300 coactivator to the COX-2 promoter region.
Conclusions: CRE plays an obligatory role in COX-2 promoter activation by diverse stimuli. CREB-2 and ATF-2 bound to CRE serve as an anchor for P300 interaction with upstream transactivators and downstream transcription machinery.