GATA-3 regulates the transcriptional activity of tyrosine hydroxylase by interacting with CREB


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Kwang-Soo Kim, Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory, McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 115 Mill Street, Belmont, MA 02478, USA.


The zinc finger transcription factor GATA-3 is a master regulator of type 2 T-helper cell development. Interestingly, in GATA-3–/– mice, noradrenaline (NA) deficiency is a proximal cause of embryonic lethality. However, neither the role of GATA-3 nor its target gene(s) in the nervous system were known. Here, we report that forced expression of GATA-3 resulted in an increased number of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) expressing neurons in primary neural crest stem cell (NCSC) culture. We also found that GATA-3 transactivates the promoter function of TH via specific upstream sequences, a domain of the TH promoter residing at −61 to −39 bp. Surprisingly, this domain does not contain GATA-3 binding sites but possesses a binding motif, a cAMP response element (CRE), for the transcription factor, CREB. In addition, we found that site-directed mutation of this CRE almost completely abolished transactivation of the TH promoter by GATA-3. Furthermore, protein–protein interaction assays showed that GATA-3 is able to physically interact with CREB in vitro as well as in vivo. Based on these results, we propose that GATA-3 may regulate TH gene transcription via a novel and distinct protein–protein interaction, and directly contributes to NA phenotype specification.