Transrepression of c-jun gene expression by the glucocorticoid receptor requires both AP-1 sites in the c-jun promoter

Mol Endocrinol. 1998 Sep;12(9):1322-33. doi: 10.1210/mend.12.9.0158.


The c-jun protooncogene encodes a nuclear protein, cJun, which is a major component of the AP-1 transcription factor. AP-1 regulates various aspects of cell proliferation and differentiation. As an immediate early response gene, the expression of the c-jun gene is affected by various extracellular stimuli, such as serum, phorbol esters, and glucocorticoids. In mouse L929 fibroblasts, dexamethasone (DEX) treatment caused a 60% reduction of c-jun mRNA levels. Previous studies indicated that this reduction is due to the alteration of the transcription rate of the c-jun gene. To further investigate the molecular mechanisms of transcriptional repression of c-jun by DEX, a full-length human c-jun promoter, from -1780 to +731, was amplified from genomic DNA using PCR and then linked to the luciferase reporter gene. To identify the regulatory elements responsible for the down-regulation, nested deletions spanning the promoter were generated, and the promoter/luciferase constructs were transiently transfected into L929 cells. Upon hormone treatment, basal activity of the full-length c-jun promoter was reduced by approximately 40%, which accounts for two-thirds of the overall down-regulation observed at the mRNA level. This reduction of c-jun promoter activity was abolished after deletion of the region between -1780 to -63, where two AP-1 sites (-182 and -64) are located. Site-directed deletion of these AP-1 sites reduced the basal activity of the c-jun promoter and prevented repression by DEX. Repression of the c-jun gene is due to the transrepression activity of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR), as determined using GR mutants lacking this activity. Overexpression of cJun overcame the negative effect of DEX, suggesting that down-regulation of the c-jun gene by hormone is mediated by the interaction between the GR and the cJun protein. These studies are the first to show that glucocorticoids can repress c-jun promoter activity through the AP-1 sites in the c-jun promoter in mouse fibroblast cells. They also suggest that inhibition of cell proliferation by glucocorticoids may be due not only to the interference with AP-1 activity on other cellular genes, but also because of a direct transcriptional suppression of c-jun gene expression by the GR.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding Sites / genetics
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dexamethasone / pharmacology
  • Down-Regulation
  • Gene Expression Regulation* / drug effects
  • Genes, jun / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid / genetics*
  • Repressor Proteins / metabolism*
  • Sequence Deletion
  • Transcription Factor AP-1 / metabolism*


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Transcription Factor AP-1
  • Dexamethasone