Metallothionein (MT)-inducing activity of interleukin (IL)-6 depends on the presence of glucocorticoid in hepatic cells. The synergistic action of IL-6 and glucocorticoid was observed in the transcriptional activation of the mouse MT (mMT)-I gene. We found that a 281-bp promoter was sufficient for IL-6 and glucocorticoid stimulation. Our inspection of this region revealed the putative type 1 and 2 IL-6 responsive elements (REs). Functional analyses of these regions were performed using luciferase reporter constructs, and it was observed that the type 2 IL-6RE exerted the major response to the IL-6 signal. The transcriptional factor binding to type 1 IL-6RE, nuclear factor-IL-6, hardly contributed to the activation of the mMT-I promoter by IL-6 and glucocorticoid. A glucocorticoid responsive element (GRE) was also required for the synergistic activation by IL-6 and glucocorticoid. Interestingly, this synergism was not observed when the type 2 IL-6RE and the GRE were kept apart. Therefore, the synergistic activation of the mMT-I gene by IL-6 and glucocorticoid may require not only that signal transducers and activators 3 (Stat3) and the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) bind to their respective responsive elements, but also that Stat3 and the GR physically interact with one another.
Copyright 1998 Academic Press.