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Brain Res Mol Brain Res. 1999 Dec 10;74(1-2):1-14.

4.5 kb of the rat tyrosine hydroxylase 5' flanking sequence directs tissue specific expression during development and contains consensus sites for multiple transcription factors.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02111, USA.


To delineate DNA sequences responsible for developmentally correct expression of the rat tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) gene, we analyzed a line of transgenic mice expressing high levels of human placental alkaline phosphatase (AP) under control of 4.5 kb of 5' flanking DNA from the rat TH gene in embryos and adults. Several regions, such as the accessory olfactory bulb, which were not thought to synthesize TH protein or do so only transiently, were shown to express TH protein using an improved method of antigen retrieval for TH immunohistochemistry. Many of these regions had been shown to express TH-driven reporter genes in transgenic mice. In the central nervous system, AP was detected in essentially all TH-expressing cell groups throughout development and in adults. In the peripheral nervous system, transgene expression paralleled endogenous TH expression in the developing adrenal medulla and sympathetic ganglia but not in transiently TH-positive cells in dorsal root ganglia. Peripheral expression in the adult adrenal medulla was very weak and absent in sympathetic ganglia. The specificity with which the 4.5 kb region directs transgene expression in embryos is comparable to that observed with longer 5' flanking promoter regions, implying that this region contains the control elements for appropriate expression during development. Sequence analysis of the region demonstrates a GT dinucleotide repeat, an element that resembles the neural restrictive silencer element (NRSE), which restricts transcription of neuronal genes in non-neuronal cells, and consensus sites for three families of transcription factors, Ptx1/3, Nurr1 and Gli1/2, which are required for the early differentiation of mesencephalic neurons.

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