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J Biol Chem. 1992 Jun 25;267(18):12876-84.

Somatostatin gene upstream enhancer element activated by a protein complex consisting of CREB, Isl-1-like, and alpha-CBF-like transcription factors.

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  • 1Laboratory of Molecular Endocrinology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston 02114.


The expression of the genes encoding the hormones glucagon, insulin, somatostatin, and pancreatic polypeptide in the endocrine islets of the pancreas is regulated in a cell-specific manner, defining four distinct cellular phenotypes (A-, B-, D-, and F-cells, respectively). Binding of nuclear proteins to cognate DNA sequences within cis-acting regulatory elements mediates the transcriptional events that result in the cell-specific activation or repression of gene expression. In a parallel study, we describe the functional properties of the SMS-UE, a pancreatic islet D-cell specific enhancer element that regulates the expression of the somatostatin gene and contains two interdependent domains, A and B. In the studies described herein, we have characterized the nuclear proteins that recognize the SMS-UE. Domain A of the SMS-UE is a DNA enhancer sequence that is identical to that bound by the ubiquitously distributed CCAAT box-binding protein alpha-CBF, a transcription factor that regulates the expression of the human chorionic gonadotrophin alpha-subunit gene. The B-domain, on the other hand, binds an islet cell-specific protein with characteristics similar to those of Isl-1, a transcriptional activator protein that binds to the E2 enhancer of the rat insulin-1 gene. In addition, the SMS-UE binds transcription factor CREB but not CREM, the close homolog of CREB, on a site adjacent to, or overlapping, the 3' end of domain B. We show that the carboxyl-terminal bZIP domain of CREB binds to the cAMP response element of the somatostatin gene but is not sufficient for binding to the SMS-UE, and we present evidence suggesting that CREB.SMS-UE binding requires stabilization by a region of the protein located within the transactivation domain.

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