- The major histocompatibility complex class I enhancer is the target for adenovirus-12 E1A-mediated down-regulation of class I transcription. In Ad12 transformed rodent cells, the class I enhancer is down-regulated through increased binding of the repressor COUP-TF to the R2 element and decreased binding of the activator NF-kappa B (p50/p65) to the R1 element. The reduced surface levels of class I antigens contribute to the tumorigenic potential of Ad12 transformed cells by favoring their immunoescape from cytotoxic T-lymphocytes. Previous studies using transformed cells containing hybrid Ad5/Ad12 E1A (plus Ad12 E1B) genes have indicated that sequences within the first exon of the 266R Ad12 E1A gene are required for class I down-regulation and tumorigenesis. In this study we demonstrate that these same sequences, which exclude the Ad12 CR3 transactivation domain, are also required for increased COUP-TF binding to the R2 element and decreased NF-kappa B binding to the R1 element of the class I enhancer. We further show that diminished NF-kappa B binding is not due to a lack of NF-kappa B1-p50 in the nuclei of Ad12 transformed rat cells.