Like interleukin 2 (IL-2), interferon gamma (IFN-gamma) is an early response gene in T cells and both are prototypical T helper cell type 1 (Th-1) lymphokines. Yet IL-2 and IFN-gamma production are independently regulated, as demonstrated by their differential expression in certain T cell subsets, suggesting that the regulatory elements in these two genes must differ. To explore this possibility, the 5' flank of the human IFN-gamma gene was analyzed. Expression of IFN-gamma promoter-driven beta-galactosidase reporter constructs containing 538 bp of 5' flank was similar to that by constructs driven by the IL-2 promoter in activated Jurkat T cells; expression nearly as great was observed with the construct containing only 108 bp of IFN-gamma 5' flank. These IFN-gamma promoter constructs faithfully mirrored expression of the endogenous gene, in that expression required activation both with ionomycin and PMA, was inhibited by cyclosporin A, and was not observed in U937 or THP-1 cells. The region between -108 and -40 bp in the IFN-gamma promoter was required for promoter function and contained two elements that are conserved across species. Deletion of 10 bp within either element reduced promoter function by 70%, whereas deletions in nonconserved portions of this region had little effect on promoter function. The distal conserved element (-96 to -80 bp) contained a consensus GATA motif and a potential regulatory motif found in the promoter regions of the GM-CSF and macrophage inflammatory protein (MIP) genes. Factors binding to this element, including GATA-3, were found in Jurkat nuclear extracts by electromobility shift assays and two of the three complexes observed were altered in response to activation. One or both of these motifs are present in the 5' flank of multiple, other lymphokine genes, including IL-3, IL-4, IL-5, and GM-CSF, but neither is present in the promoter of the IL-2 gene. The proximal conserved element (-73 to -48 bp) shares homology with the NFIL-2A element in the IL-2 promoter; these elements compete for binding of factors in Jurkat nuclear extracts, although the NFIL-2A element but not the IFN-gamma element binds Oct-1. Factors binding to this element in the IFN-gamma gene were present in extracts from resting and activated Jurkat T cells. However, by in vivo footprinting of intact cells, this element was protected from methylation only with activation.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

This content is only available as a PDF.