For a long period of time, the transcription factor CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein homologous protein (CHOP) has been thought to inhibit transcriptional activity for its ability to interact with CCAAT enhancer-binding protein family factors, thus preventing their binding to DNA. We have previously shown that in human T lymphocytes the CHOP phosphorylation induced by prostaglandin E2 (PGE2)-increased interleukin-8 (IL-8) gene expression. Given the CHOP positive role in the regulation of transcription, here we have investigated the molecular mechanism(s) by which CHOP increases IL-8 gene activity under PGE2 stimulus. Transfection experiments with mutants showed both that the CHOP transactivation domain is essential for IL-8 transcription and that the IL-8/activator protein 1 (AP-1) promoter mutated in NF-κB and NF-IL-6, but not in the AP-1 site, harbors essential CHOP-responsive elements. CHOP silencing confirmed its role in the IL-8 transcriptional regulation and protein production, whereas c-Jun small interfering RNA experiments showed that the PGE2-induced activation of IL-8 promoter is mainly c-Jun-independent. Moreover, PGE2 induced CHOP-DNA complexes only when the entire IL-8/AP-1 promoter or the wild type sequences encompassing the AP-1 upstream region were employed. Mutations introduced in these sequences prevented the DNA-CHOP complex formation. The IL-8/AP-1 mutant promoter lacking the sequence immediately upstream the AP-1 site is PGE2-unresponsive. Finally, chromatin immunoprecipitation data confirmed in vivo that PGE2 induces CHOP binding to the IL-8 promoter. Taken together, our results suggest that the increased expression of CHOP in response to PGE2 exerts a positive transcriptional regulation of the IL-8 promoter mediated by direct binding to a novel consensus site
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