Transient activation of the interleukin-2 (IL-2) gene after antigen recognition by T lymphocytes is crucial for subsequent T cell proliferation and differentiation. Several IL-2 gene regulatory elements and binding factors necessary for activation of the IL-2 gene have been defined. However, little is known about negative regulation of IL-2 expression, which is likely to be important in the rapid shut-off of IL-2 transcription. A nucleotide sequence element (NRE-A) that negatively regulates IL-2 expression has been identified within the IL-2 gene. T cell nuclear extracts contained an NRE-A binding activity. A complementary DNA was isolated that encodes a zinc finger-containing protein that suppressed IL-2 gene expression. The observation of negative regulation of the immunoglobulin heavy chain gene enhancer by an element similar to NRE-A suggests that related proteins may regulate multiple immune response genes.

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