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BMC Genomics. 2007 Aug 8;8:271.

Identification of conserved domains in the promoter regions of nitric oxide synthase 2: implications for the species-specific transcription and evolutionary differences.

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  • 1Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares, Melchor Fernández Almagro 3, Madrid, Spain. <>



The majority of the genes involved in the inflammatory response are highly conserved in mammals. These genes are not significantly expressed under normal conditions and are mainly regulated at the transcription and prost-transcriptional level. Transcription from the promoters of these genes is very dependent on NF-kappaB activation, which integrates the response to diverse extracellular stresses. However, in spite of the high conservation of the pattern of promoter regulation in kappaB-regulated genes, there is inter-species diversity in some genes. One example is nitric oxide synthase 2 (NOS-2), which exhibits a species-specific pattern of expression in response to infection or pro-inflammatory challenge.


We have conducted a comparative genomic analysis of NOS-2 with different bioinformatic approaches. This analysis shows that in the NOS-2 gene promoter the position and the evolutionary divergence of some conserved regions are different in rodents and non-rodent mammals, and in particular in primates. Two not previously described distal regions in rodents that are similar to the unique upstream region responsible of the NF-kappaB activation of NOS-2 in humans are fragmented and translocated to different locations in the rodent promoters. The rodent sequences moreover lack the functional kappaB sites and IFN-gamma response sites present in the homologous human, rhesus monkey and chimpanzee regions. The absence of kappaB binding in these regions was confirmed by electrophoretic mobility shift assays.


The data presented reveal divergence between rodents and other mammals in the location and functionality of conserved regions of the NOS-2 promoter containing NF-kappaB and IFN-gamma response elements.

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