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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Jan 1989; 86(1): 104–108.
PMCID: PMC286412

Prolactin and glucocorticoid hormones synergistically induce expression of transfected rat beta-casein gene promoter constructs in a mammary epithelial cell line.

Abstract

We have detected hormone response elements in the promoter region of the rat beta-casein gene that confer the synergistic action of prolactin and glucocorticoid hormones upon transcription of chimeric gene constructs. A 2800-base-pair (bp) rat beta-casein gene fragment containing 2300 bp of 5' flanking sequence was placed in front of a chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT) reporter gene and stably transfected into the mouse mammary epithelial cell line HC11. Addition of prolactin or dexamethasone alone was sufficient for a modest induction of the fusion gene. The simultaneous presence of both hormones produced a strongly synergistic effect, which did not require the presence of insulin. Induction of the beta-casein-CAT gene was only observed in stably transfected confluent cell cultures. Analysis of a 5' deletion series of the beta-casein-CAT gene construct revealed a stepwise loss of hormone inducibility; 285 bp of 5' flanking sequence was sufficient to mediate the synergistic action of lactogenic hormones on expression. The response was reduced by half when compared with the construct containing 2300 bp of the 5' flanking region. Synergistic inducibility further decreased in deletion mutants between -285 and -265 and was completely abolished between -180 and -170. Thus, the 5' flanking region between -285 and -170 contains cis-acting sequences, which are required for mediating the effect of prolactin and dexamethasone.

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