Four nuclear factor of activated T cells (NF-AT) binding motifs were found in the murine CD40 ligand promoter. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays using 18-base pair (bp) long oligonucleotides corresponding to the proximal site and nuclear extracts from activated T cells revealed two complexes which were inhibited by cyclosporin A and contained NF-ATc and NF-ATp. Neither complex contained AP-1 proteins. Multimers of the 18-bp oligonucleotides were not active in transient transfection assays using luciferase reporter gene constructs. In contrast, a 30-bp long oligonucleotide bound AP-1 proteins in addition to NF-AT proteins and its multimers strongly induced luciferase gene expression. These results suggested that NF-AT proteins play an important role in the expression of the CD40L gene and that their transcriptional activity requires AP-1 binding.
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