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Exp Cell Res. 1996 Dec 15;229(2):432-7.

Age-associated changes in basal c-fos transcription factor binding activity in rat hearts.

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  • 1Gerontology Division, Beth Israel Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, 02215, USA.


The early response proto-oncogene c-fos is expressed at very low levels in the mammalian heart at baseline. To further investigate the mechanism of altered c-fos expression with age, we studied in the basal state the binding of five transcription proteins to their cognate sites in the c-fos promoter/enhancer region, in adult and old F344 rats. Our results show a reduced binding of E2F and AP1 proteins to the c-fos promoter in aging hearts. The major calcium/cyclic AMP response element (CRE) and SP1 binding was unchanged. The only increase seen with age was in the serum response element (SRE) binding proteins. SRE is the point of convergence of different signal transduction pathways (via MAP kinases and the Rho family of GTPases) at the c-fos promoter. Increased SRE binding may reflect a compensation for a decreased binding of other transcription proteins to the c-fos promoter, alteration in the phosphorylation status of SRF, or a change in the ternary complex factors Elk 1 or SAP 1. Other possibilities include defects in the signal transduction pathways with aging, which combine to produce an overall negative balance in the function of the c-fos promoter despite the increased SRE binding activity. Both in vitro and in vivo experiments have shown decreased c-fos expression with age. This may be due partly to alterations in the basal levels of transcription factor binding.

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