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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Calcium-dependent activation of interleukin-21 gene expression in T cells.

Interleukin (IL)-21 is a gamma(c)-dependent cytokine produced by activated T cells with important actions for T, B, and NK cells. The IL-21 gene is adjacent to the IL-2 gene, and like IL-2, IL-21 is strongly induced at the transcriptional level after T cell activation. Interestingly, however, in contrast to the IL-2 gene, a calcium ionophore alone was sufficient to induce IL-21 gene expression in preactivated T cells. Two DNase I hypersensitivity sites were found in the IL-21 gene, corresponding to nucleotide sequences that are conserved in humans and mice. One site is located at the IL-21 promoter region and conferred T cell receptor-mediated IL-21 gene transcription. TCR-induced IL-21 gene expression was inhibited by cyclosporin A and FK506. Correspondingly, the IL-21 5'-regulatory region contains three NFAT binding sites, and induction of IL-21 promoter activity was impaired when these sites were mutated or following treatment with cyclosporin A. Thus, our studies reveal that in contrast to IL-2, a calcium signal alone is sufficient to mediate induction of the IL-21 in preactivated T lymphocytes and that this induction appears to result from specific NFAT binding.[1]


  1. Calcium-dependent activation of interleukin-21 gene expression in T cells. Kim, H.P., Korn, L.L., Gamero, A.M., Leonard, W.J. J. Biol. Chem. (2005) [Pubmed]
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