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Mol Cell Biol. Jul 1988; 8(7): 2896–2909.
PMCID: PMC363509

Identification of upstream and intragenic regulatory elements that confer cell-type-restricted and differentiation-specific expression on the muscle creatine kinase gene.

Abstract

Terminal differentiation of skeletal myoblasts is accompanied by induction of a series of tissue-specific gene products, which includes the muscle isoenzyme of creatine kinase (MCK). To begin to define the sequences and signals involved in MCK regulation in developing muscle cells, the mouse MCK gene has been isolated. Sequence analysis of 4,147 bases of DNA surrounding the transcription initiation site revealed several interesting structural features, some of which are common to other muscle-specific genes and to cellular and viral enhancers. To test for sequences required for regulated expression, a region upstream of the MCK gene from -4800 to +1 base pairs, relative to the transcription initiation site, was linked to the coding sequences of the bacterial chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT) gene. Introduction of this MCK-CAT fusion gene into C2 muscle cells resulted in high-level expression of CAT activity in differentiated myotubes and no detectable expression in proliferating undifferentiated myoblasts or in nonmyogenic cell lines. Deletion mutagenesis of sequences between -4800 and the transcription start site showed that the region between -1351 and -1050 was sufficient to confer cell type-specific and developmentally regulated expression on the MCK promoter. This upstream regulatory element functioned independently of position, orientation, or distance from the promoter and therefore exhibited the properties of a classical enhancer. This upstream enhancer also was able to confer muscle-specific regulation on the simian virus 40 promoter, although it exhibited a 3- to 5-fold preference for its own promoter. In contrast to the cell type- and differentiation-specific expression of the upstream enhancer, the MCK promoter was able to function in myoblasts and myotubes and in nonmyogenic cell lines when combined with the simian virus 40 enhancer. An additional positive regulatory element was identified within the first intron of the MCK gene. Like the upstream enhancer, this intragenic element functioned independently of position, orientation, and distance with respect to the MCK promoter and was active in differentiated myotubes but not in myoblasts. These results demonstrate that expression of the MCK gene in developing muscle cells is controlled by complex interactions among multiple upstream and intragenic regulatory elements that are functional only in the appropriate cellular context.

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Selected References

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