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PLoS One. 2012;7(5):e36483. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0036483. Epub 2012 May 11.

Localizing transcriptional regulatory elements at the mouse Dlk1 locus.

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  • 1The Department of Biological Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, United States of America.


Much effort has focused recently on determining the mechanisms that control the allele-specific expression of genes subject to genomic imprinting, yet imprinting regulation is only one aspect of configuring appropriate expression of these genes. Imprinting control mechanisms must interact with those regulating the tissue-specific expression pattern of each imprinted gene in a cluster. Proper expression of the imprinted Delta-like 1 (Dlk1)-Maternally expressed gene 3 (Meg3) gene pair is required for normal fetal development in mammals, yet the mechanisms that control tissue-specific expression of these genes are unknown. We have used a combination of in vivo and in vitro expression assays to localize cis-regulatory elements that may regulate Dlk1 expression in the mouse embryo. A bacterial artificial chromosome transgene encompassing the Dlk1 gene and 77 kb of flanking sequence conferred expression in most endogenous Dlk1-expressing tissues. In combination with previous transgenic data, these experiments localize the majority of Dlk1 cis-regulatory elements to a 41 kb region upstream of the gene. Cross-species sequence conservation was used to further define potential regulatory elements, several of which functioned as enhancers in a luciferase expression assay. Two of these elements were able to drive expression of a lacZ reporter transgene in Dlk1-expressing tissues in the mouse embryo. The sequence proximal to Dlk1 therefore contains at least two discrete regions that may regulate tissue-specificity of Dlk1 expression.

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