By a combination of DNase I footprinting, methylation interference, and gel shift analyses we have identified multiple binding sites for nuclear proteins within the promoter region of the human neurofilament H gene. Two sites likely bind the transcription factor Sp1 while two others may be targets for previously unrecognized DNA binding proteins. One site, PAL, occurs within the 10 bp sequence GGGGAGGAGG. Two copies of the PAL sequence form an interrupted palindrome around one of the Sp1 sites. A second site, PROX, is found within the sequence GGTTGGACC. Nuclear extracts prepared from both neural and non-neural cell lines, mouse brain, and mouse liver contain proteins that recognize and bind to the PROX and PAL sequences indicating that proteins which bind to these target sequences are widespread. The appearance of these target sequences in the 5′ upstream region of several neuron specific genes suggests that they play key roles in the transcription of neuron specific genes. The functional activity of these target DNA sequences was demonstrated by transfection assays using a reporter gene fused to nested deletions of the NF(H) promoter region. Interestingly, these assays revealed that maximal transient expression was obtained with DNA fusion genes containing the PAL, PROX and TATA sequences. Inclusion of the Sp1 sites into the fusion genes failed to enhance the expression of the reporter gene. To determine if the NF(H) promoter can be activated in a tissue specific manner during development transgenic mice containing the promoter region linked to a β-galactosidase reporter gene were generated. In one line sporadic expression of the transgene occurred in the CNS and testis while in four other lines no expression occurred. Collectively these results suggest that the NF(H) gene promoter is active in a tissue specific manner only by interactions with regulatory elements that lie further upstream or downstream of the start site of initiation.
- Cis-acting sequence
- DNA-binding protein
- Neurofilament H gene promoter
- Transgenic mice