Abstract

Molecules involved in the antigen receptor-dependent regulation of early T cell activation genes were investigated with the use of functional sequences of the T cell activation-specific enhancer of interleukin-2 (IL-2). One of these sequences forms a protein complex, NFAT-1, specifically with nuclear extracts of activated T cells. This complex appeared 10 to 25 minutes before the activation of the IL-2 gene. Studies with inhibitors of protein synthesis indicated that the time of synthesis of the activator of the IL-2 gene in Jurkat T cells corresponds to the time of appearance of NFAT-1. NFAT-1, or a very similar protein, bound functional sequences of the long terminal repeat (LTR) of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1; the LTR of this virus is known to be stimulated during early T cell activation. The binding site for this complex activated a linked promoter after transfection into antigen receptor-activated T cells but not other cell types. These characteristics suggest that NFAT-1 transmits signals initiated at the T cell antigen receptor.

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