CD4+ T cell differentiation into cells capable of producing IL-4 and IL-13 (Th2 cells) requires the presence of IL-4 and is STAT-6 dependent. Here we show that IL-4 is not required for IL-4 or IL-13 production by Th2 cells. Anti-IL-4 or anti-IL-4R Ab did not diminish IL-4 production by Th2 cells in response to TCR-mediated stimulation, nor did IL-4 enhance IL-4 production in response to stimulation of Th2 cells with limiting amounts of Ag. Th2 cells prepared from IL-4 knockout mice were capable of producing IL-13 mRNA in response to stimulation with immobilized anti-CD3. IL-4 did not increase IL-13 mRNA expression. Despite the failure of IL-4 to effect IL-4 production by primed Th2 cells, a STAT-6 binding element was demonstrated in the IL-4 promoter. The authenticity of this element was demonstrated by oligonucleotide competition, by supershifting with anti-STAT-6 Ab, and by IL-4-inducible effects on transcription of a reporter gene under the control of a multimerized element fused to an IL-4 minimal promoter. Nonetheless, an IL-4 promoter construct lacking the STAT-6 binding element was as effective as a construct containing this element in anti-CD3-induced reporter transcription. Thus, this element, if biologically active, must function at a step in T cell responsiveness distinct from the acute production of IL-4 by Th2 cells in response to Ag or anti-CD3.

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