Signal transducer and activator of transcription 6 (STAT6) is essential for the biological activities of interleukin-4 (IL-4) and the development of allergic responses in mice. Here we report on a sensitive and specific assay for STAT6 activation in response to IL-4. We took advantage of double-stranded oligonucleotide probes containing a STAT6-binding gene-sequence from the promotor of the immunoglobulin heavy chain germline Ε transcript to study the IL-4-induced DNA binding of STAT6. Using these probes, we show that repeated adjacent STAT6-binding sites result in enhanced STAT6-DNA binding. Moreover, the distance between the binding sites is critical for STAT-DNA binding, i.e. STAT6 binding is decreased at distances above 20 nucleotides between neighbouring binding sites. Using this assay to study cross-talk between IL-4 and chemokines, we provide evidence that MIP-1β and MIG inhibit IL-4-induced STAT6 activation, whereas other chemokines and cytokines do not. In conclusion, our data show that oligonucleotide fishing is a supplementary tool for studying cytokine cross-talk at a genomic level.

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