The expression of the transcription factor AP-2 recently has been shown to be enhanced during retinoic acid (RA)-induced differentiation of NT2 cells, a human teratocarcinoma cell line. Here we show that this induction of AP-2 mRNA is at the level of transcription and is transient, reaching a peak 48-72 hr after the addition of RA and declining thereafter, even in the continuous presence of RA. Increased levels of AP-2 mRNA are reflected in a similar elevation of AP-2 protein and accompanied by an increase in the AP-2-binding site-dependent transcriptional activity of a reporter gene. AP-2 also has been proposed to confer TPA and cAMP inducibility on promoters/enhancers containing AP-2-binding sites. We investigated the effect of these agents on the expression of AP-2 protein and mRNA. Our experiments demonstrate that expression of the AP-2 gene in HeLa cells is not elevated significantly by TPA or by a calcium ionophore and is not enhanced at all by agents that increase intracellular cAMP concentration. In fact, AP-2 mRNA is repressed by both TPA and the calcium ionophore A23187 through a delayed response. These data suggest that the AP-2-binding site-mediated cAMP and TPA responses are not regulated at the level of AP-2 expression but, rather, achieved either by post-translational changes in AP-2 or in conjunction with another protein.
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