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Biol Reprod. 2003 Apr;68(4):1376-86. Epub 2002 Oct 31.

Mouse testin: complementary DNA cloning, genomic organization, and characterization of its proximal promoter region.

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  • 1Department of Zoology, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China.


Testin is a secretory protein that was initially identified from rat Sertoli cell-enriched cultures and has been suggested to be a sensitive marker to monitor the integrity of Sertoli-germ cell junctions. However, the expression of the testin gene in other species and the molecular mechanisms that govern its transcription are unknown. To address these issues, we cloned and characterized the mouse testin gene. A full-length mouse testin cDNA encoding a polypeptide of 333 amino acid residues was isolated by library screening. Sequence analysis revealed that mouse testin shares 90.1%, 58.9%, 62.2%, and 64.6% identity with rat testin and cathepsin L of mouse, rat, and human, respectively, at the amino acid level. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and Southern blot analysis demonstrated that mouse testin transcripts were predominantly expressed in the gonads. The mouse testin gene spans over 21 kilobases (kb) and contains eight exons interrupted by seven introns. Primer extension analysis and 5' rapid amplification of cDNA ends identified a major transcription start site located 134 base pairs upstream from the translation initiation codon. Analysis of a 2.3-kb mouse testin 5'-flanking region revealed that it lacked TATA and CAAT boxes, and the region was not GC rich. By the use of deletion analysis, in vitro DNase I footprinting, and site-directed mutagenesis, we identified within the proximal promoter region three closely spaced putative binding sites for GATA, sex-determining factor, and steroidogenic factor 1 that are important for testin gene transcription in mouse Sertoli (MSC-1) cells. These cis-acting elements are also present in the conserved Mullerian-inhibiting substance (MIS) proximal promoters, raising a possibility that the transcriptions of testin and MIS genes are controlled by similar mechanisms.

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