In the present study, we observed superstimulated levels of cAMP-stimulated transcription from the phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (PEPCK) gene promoter in cells infected with wild-type adenovirus expressing 12S and 13S E1a proteins, or in cells expressing 13S E1a alone. cAMP-stimulated transcription was inhibited in cells expressing only 12S E1a, but slightly elevated in cells expressing E1a proteins with mutations in conserved regions 1 or 2, leading us to conclude that the superstimulation was mediated by conserved region 3 of 13S E1a. E1a failed to enhance cAMP-stimulated transcription from promoters containing mutations that abolish binding by cAMP response element binding protein (CREB) or CCAAT/enhancer binding proteins (C/EBPs). This result was supported by experiments in which expression of dominant-negative CREB and/or C/EBP proteins repressed E1a- and cAMP-stimulated transcription from the PEPCK gene promoter. In reconstitution experiments using a Gal4-responsive promoter, E1a enhanced cAMP-stimulated transcription when chimaeric Gal4–CREB and Gal4–C/EBPα were co-expressed. Phosphorylation of CREB on serine-133 was stimulated in cells treated with dibutyryl cAMP, whereas phosphorylation of C/EBPα was increased by E1a expression. Our data support a model in which cAMP agonists increase CREB activity and stimulate PEPCK gene transcription, a process that is enhanced by E1a through the phosphorylation of C/EBPα.

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