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J Biol Chem. 1991 Jan 25;266(3):1746-53.

Contributory effects of de novo transcription and premature transcript termination in the regulation of human epidermal growth factor receptor proto-oncogene RNA synthesis.

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  • 1Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, London, United Kingdom.


Overexpression of the epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor (c-erbB) proto-oncogene is a frequent occurrence in human carcinoma and appears to accompany autocrine or paracrine transforming growth factor-alpha expression, which in model systems can result in activation of EGF receptor tyrosine kinase activity and phenotypic transformation. Here we have investigated the transcriptional regulation of the EGF receptor gene, by run-on transcription in isolated nuclei derived from epithelioid tumor lines. The level of transcription was measured at various points on the 100-kilobase pair EGF receptor gene locus, on either sense or antisense DNA strands. We find the level of sense strand transcription along exon 1 is 8-fold higher than transcription in exons 2-26. Primary EGF receptor transcripts appear to pause or terminate prematurely between exons 1 and 2. Termination was mapped to a sequenced region approximately 2 kilobase pairs 3' of exon 1, proximal to a previously reported DNase I hypersensitive site and an enhancer-like activity. Transcription in the CpG-rich region surrounding exon 1 is bidirectional, with antisense transcripts initiating in intron 1 and extending through the coding first exon. Activation of protein kinase C results in a 5-fold induction of EGF receptor transcription, accompanied by a slow release in the block RNA elongation between exon 2 and exon 26, showing that EGF receptor RNA synthesis may be altered by changes in de novo transcription and by a block to RNA elongation.

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