NFAT transcription factors play a central role in initiating T-cell activation through the induction of immediate-early T-cell specific genes including interleukin-2 (IL-2). NFAT transcription factors bind to a sequence in the IL-2 enhancer known as the antigen receptor response element 2 (ARRE- 2). Multiple proteins exhibiting ARRE-2 binding activity have been isolated, including a heterodimer from stimulated T-cell nuclear extracts consisting of M(r) = 90 000 (NF90) and M(r) = 45 000 (NF45) subunits. The subunits of this heterodimer have been cloned, and NF90 was found to encode a protein containing two domains that are predicted to form motifs capable of binding to double-stranded RNA. Using in vitro translated polypeptides, we have demonstrated that NF90 specifically binds to double-stranded RNA. Furthermore, NF90 was phosphorylated in a double-stranded RNA-dependent manner likely by the interferon-induced, double-stranded RNA-dependent protein kinase, PKR. The NF90 protein was found to be expressed not only in T-cells, but also in nonimmune HeLa cells. In HeLa cells, the protein was almost exclusively localized to the ribosome salt wash fraction of cell lysates.
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