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Have you tried TPA and TNF together?  Does TNF quench the TPA response?
Does TNF activate other AP1 promoters (is your TNF good)?

TPA activates the PKC and Raf cascade, resulting in activation of ERK.  ERK
may turn on ELK which turns on Fos, and thus your AP1 site.  There may be
activation of Fos via FRK.  TNF activates JNK, which should activate Jun
and your AP1 site, but may also activate side pathawys.  TNF may activate a
side-pathway that induces an inhibitor of the particular AP1 Fos/Jun pair.

There are different Fos/Jun partners in cells and they probably
transactivate a given AP1 site in different manners.  The TNF may not
activate the appropriate set of Fos/Jun partners for that particular
promoter site.

Katheryn Resing