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PNAS 99 (18): 11796-11801

Copyright © 2002 by the National Academy of Sciences.


Genomic expression programs and the integration of the CD28 costimulatory signal in T cell activation

Maximilian Diehn*,{dagger}, Ash A. Alizadeh*,{dagger}, Oliver J. Rando*,{ddagger}, Chih Long Liu*,{dagger}, Kryn Stankunas{ddagger}, David Botstein§, Gerald R. Crabtree{ddagger},||, and Patrick O. Brown{dagger},||

Departments of {dagger}Biochemistry, {ddagger}Developmental Biology, and §Genetics, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305

Contributed by Gerald R. Crabtree

Accepted for publication May 10, 2002.

Abstract: Optimal activation of T cells requires effective occupancy of both the antigen-specific T cell receptor and a second coreceptor such as CD28. We used cDNA microarrays to characterize the genomic expression program in human peripheral T cells responding to stimulation of these receptors. We found that CD28 agonists alone elicited few, but reproducible, changes in gene expression, whereas CD3 agonists elicited a multifaceted temporally choreographed gene expression program. The principal effect of simultaneous engagement of CD28 was to increase the amplitude of the CD3 transcriptional response. The induced genes whose expression was most enhanced by costimulation were significantly enriched for known targets of nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT) transcription factors. This enhancement was nearly abolished by blocking the nuclear translocation of NFATc by using the calcineurin inhibitor FK506. CD28 signaling promoted phosphorylation, and thus inactivation, of the NFAT nuclear export kinase glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK3), coincident with enhanced dephosphorylation of NFATc proteins. These results provide a detailed picture of the transcriptional program of T cell activation and suggest that enhancement of transcriptional activation by NFAT, through inhibition of its nuclear export, plays a key role in mediating the CD28 costimulatory signal.

* M.D., A.A.A., O.J.R., and C.L.L. contributed equally to this work.

|| To whom reprint requests may be addressed. E-mail: pbrown{at} or crabtree{at}

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