Cloning and Characterization of Hamster Proenkephalin Gene

Yuan Shan Zhu, Andrea D. Branch, Hugh D. Robertson, Charles E. Inturrisi

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Our previous studies have shown that the hamster adrenal, like the human, contains high levels of preproenkephalin (PPenk) mRNA and enkephalin peptides, and may serve as a mammalian model for the in vivo study of proenkephalin (Penk) gene expression, peptide biosynthesis, and release. To define further the factors that may regulate hamster Penk gene expression, the hamster Penk gene was isolated from a genomic library prepared from Syrian hamster liver. The hamster Penk gene contains four exons and three introns and encodes 268 amino acids including six copies of Met-enkephalin containing peptides and one copy of Leu-enkephalin. In the 5′ upstream region, there are TATA and GC boxes and multiple putative regulatory elements including the cAMP response element, AP-1, AP-2, AP-4, and the glucocorticoid response element (GRE). Possible GREs are also present in the introns. A comparison with the human and the rat Penk genes indicates that both the human and hamster Penk gene contain three introns, while the rat Penk gene has two introns. The intron missing from the rat Penk gene is short and separates the first and second exons of the hamster and human genes. In addition, the hamster and human genes share a region (100 bases) in the 5′ upstream sequence that is 98% homologous. It is of interest that Penk gene expression is high in the adrenal medulla of both human and hamster, but is much lower in the rat. These homologous regions and the extra intron may contain regulatory features responsible for a high level of expression in the human and hamster adrenal medulla.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-35
Number of pages11
JournalDNA and Cell Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1994
Externally publishedYes


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