Nuclear factor of activated T cells is associated with a mast cell interleukin 4 transcription complex

Deborah L. Weiss, John Hural, David Tara, Luika A. Timmerman, Greg Henkel, Melissa A. Brown*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Interleukin 4 (IL-4), an immunoregulatory cytokine, is produced only by a subset of activated T cells and cells of the mast cell-basophil lineage. The production of IL-4 by mast cells likely represents a significant source of this protein in local immune-inflammatory responses in the skin, brain, gastrointestinal, and respiratory tracts, in which mast cells are prevalent. In the present study, the cis- and trans-acting elements that control inducible mast cell IL-4 gene transcription were examined and compared with those that function in T cells. We demonstrate that, as in T cells, sequences between bp -87 and -70 are critical for protein association and activation-dependent gene transcription and that this region (termed the activation-responsive element region) is the target of an inducible, cyclosporin A-sensitive, DNA-protein interaction. When assessed by electrophoretic mobility shift assays and UV cross-linking analyses, multiple proteins in both T- and mast cell nuclear extracts associate with the activation-responsive element in vitro, and some of these appear identical. However, distinct proteins are associated with each of the complexes as well. AP-1 family members are unique to the T-cell-stimulation-dependent complex, whereas mast cell complexes contain factors that are reactive with anti-nuclear factor of activated T cells p (NF-ATp) and anti-NF-ATc antibodies but have distinct molecular masses compared with those of T-cell-derived NF-AT. Furthermore, an anti-NF-ATp-reactive factor with a molecular mass of ∼41 kDa is present in the nuclei of unstimulated cells and binds independently of cell activation, unlike the previously described NF-AT family members. These data support the idea that there are uniquely regulated, cell lineage-specific transcription factors related to T-cell-derived NF-AT that mediate inducible IL-4 transcription in mast cells. These differences likely reflect the distinct cell surface signalling requirements for IL-4 production in T and mast cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)228-235
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular and cellular biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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