Expansion of autoreactive T cells and their resistance to anergy was demonstrated in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). A pair of transcription factors, early growth response 2 (Egr-2) and 3 (Egr-3), are negative regulators of T cell activation that were shown to be important in anergy. A peptide (designated hCDR1 for human CDR1) based on the CDR-1 of an anti-DNA Ab ameliorated SLE in both induced and spontaneous lupus models. Our objectives were to determine the expression levels of Egr-2 and Egr-3 in autoreactive T cells following immunization with the lupus-inducing anti-DNA Ab that bears a common Id designated 16/6Id and also in a full-blown SLE and to determine the effect of hCDR1 on these transcription factors. We demonstrated diminished expression levels of Egr-2 and Egr-3 mRNA both early after immunization with the 16/6Id and in SLE-afflicted (NZB x NZW)F1 (New Zealand Black and New Zealand White) mice. Furthermore, by down-regulating Akt phosphorylation and up-regulating TGFbeta secretion, treatment with hCDR1 significantly up-regulated Egr-2 and Egr-3 expression. This was associated with an increased expression of the E3 ligase Cbl-b. Inhibition of Akt in T cells of immunized mice decreased, whereas silencing of the Egr-2 and Egr-3 in T cells of hCDR1-treated mice increased IFN-gamma secretion. Thus, hCDR1 down-regulates Akt phosphorylation, which leads to up-regulated expression of T cell Egr-2 and Egr-3, resulting in the inhibition of IFN-gamma secretion that is required for the maintenance of SLE.