Nuclear factor of activated T cells-family proteins (NFAT1/NFATp, NFATc, NFAT3, and NFAT4/NFATx/NFATc3) play a key role in the transcription of cytokine genes and other genes during the immune response. We have defined the mechanisms of transactivation by NFAT1. NFAT1 possesses two transactivation domains whose sequences are not conserved in the other NFAT-family proteins, and a conserved DNA-binding domain that mediates the recruitment of cooperating nuclear transcription factors even when it is expressed in the absence of other regions of the protein. The activity of the NH2-terminal transactivation domain is modulated by an adjacent regulatory region that contains several conserved sequence motifs represented only in the NFAT family. Our results emphasize the multiple levels at which NFAT-dependent transactivation is regulated, and predict significant differences in the architecture of cooperative transcription complexes containing different NFAT-family proteins.

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