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Nucleic Acids Res. 1986 May 27;14(10):4343-52.

In vitro methylation inhibits the promotor activity of a cloned intracisternal A-particle LTR.


We studied the relation between LTR methylation and expression of the family of endogenous retrovirus-like elements related to mouse intracisternal A-particles (IAP). Comparative HpaII/MspI and HhaI restriction analysis of genomic DNA's showed that in cells and tissues with a low level of IAP gene expression, HpaII and HhaI sites within the 5' LTR were heavily methylated, while in cells abundantly expressing IAP's 20 to 30% of the 5' LTRs were demethylated at these sites. The effects of methylation on the promoter activity of a cloned IAP 5' LTR was studied directly, using the plasmid pMIA5' L-cat in which this LTR was linked to the chloramphenicol acetyl transferase (CAT) gene. In vitro methylation of three HhaI sites located between -137 and -205 bp from the RNA start site of this LTR completely inactivated the promoter activity of pMIA5' L-cat transfected into COS7 cells. Methylation of a HpaII site located 94 bp downstream from the RNA start site reduced the promoter activity by 75%. The results show that methylation at sites both upstream and downstream from the RNA start site profoundly effects the promoter activity of this LTR and suggest that methylation within the 5' LTR can serve to regulate IAP gene expression in vivo.

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