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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1995 May 9;92(10):4681-5.

Pax-6 and lens-specific transcription of the chicken delta 1-crystallin gene.

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  • 1Laboratory of Molecular and Developmental Biology, National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-2730, USA.


The abundance of delta-crystallin in the chicken eye lens provides an advantageous marker for tissue-specific gene expression during cellular differentiation. The lens-specific expression of the delta 1-crystallin gene is governed by an enhancer in the third intron, which binds a positive (delta EF2) and negative (delta EF1) factor in its core region. Here we show by DNase I footprinting, electrophoretic mobility-shift assays, and cotransfection experiments with the delta 1-promoter/enhancer fused to the chloramphenicol acetyltransferase reporter gene that the delta 1-crystallin enhancer has two adjacent functional Pax-6 binding sites. We also demonstrate by DNase I footprinting that the delta EF1 site can bind the transcription factor USF, raising the possibility that USF may cooperate with Pax-6 in activation of the chicken delta 1- and alpha A-crystallin genes. These data, coupled with our recent demonstration that Pax-6 activates the alpha A-crystallin gene, suggest that Pax-6 may have been used extensively throughout evolution to recruit and express crystallin genes in the lens.

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