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Molecular mechanisms of interleukin-2 gene inducibility: developmental control and combinatorial action of transcription factors


Chen, Dan (1994) Molecular mechanisms of interleukin-2 gene inducibility: developmental control and combinatorial action of transcription factors. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/snb3-5k23.


Interleukin-2 is one of the lymphokines secreted by T helper type 1 cells upon activation mediated by T-cell receptor (TCR) and accessory molecules. The ability to express IL-2 is correlated with T-lineage commitment and is regulated during T cell development and differentiation. Understanding the molecular mechanism of how IL-2 gene inducibility is controlled at each transition and each differentiation process of T-cell development is to understand one aspect of T-cell development. In the present study, we first attempted to elucidate the molecular basis for the developmental changes of IL-2 gene inducibility. We showed that IL-2 gene inducibility is acquired early in immature CD4- CD8-TCR- thymocytes prior to TCR gene rearrangement. Similar to mature T cells, a complete set of transcription factors can be induced at this early stage to activate IL-2 gene expression. The progression of these cells to cortical CD4^+CD8^+TCR^(1o) cells is accompanied by the loss of IL-2 gene inducibility. We demonstrated that DNA binding activities of two transcription factors AP-1 and NF-AT are reduced in cells at this stage. Further, the loss of factor binding, especially AP-1, is attributable to the reduced ability to activate expression of three potential components of AP-1 and NF-AT, including c-Fos, FosB, and Fra-2. We next examined the interaction of transcription factors and the IL-2 promoter in vivo by using the EL4 T cell line and two non-T cell lines. We showed an all-or-none phenomenon regarding the factor-DNA interaction, i.e., in activated T cells, the IL-2 promoter is occupied by sequence-specific transcription factors when all the transcription factors are available; in resting T cells or non-T cells, no specific protein-DNA interaction is observed when only a subset of factors are present in the nuclei. Purposefully reducing a particular set of factor binding activities in stimulated T cells using pharmacological agents cyclosporin A or forskolin also abolished all interactions. The results suggest that a combinatorial and coordinated protein-DNA interaction is required for IL-2 gene activation. The thymocyte experiments clearly illustrated that multiple transcription factors are regulated during intrathymic T-cell development, and this regulation in tum controls the inducibility of the lineage-specific IL-2 gene. The in vivo study of protein-DNA interaction stressed the combinatorial action of transcription factors to stably occupy the IL-2 promoter and to initiate its transcription, and provided a molecular mechanism for changes in IL-2 gene inducibility in T cells undergoing integration of multiple environmental signals.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Biology
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Major Option:Biology
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Rothenberg, Ellen V.
Thesis Committee:
  • Davidson, Eric H.
  • Sternberg, Paul W.
  • Strauss, James H.
  • Zinn, Kai George
  • Wold, Barbara J.
Defense Date:10 May 1994
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:04262013-142519914
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:7636
Deposited By: Benjamin Perez
Deposited On:26 Apr 2013 22:32
Last Modified:09 Nov 2022 19:19

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