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J Biol Chem. 1997 Jan 24;272(4):2167-75.

Retinoic acid-responsive enhancers located 3' of the Hox A and Hox B homeobox gene clusters. Functional analysis.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, Cornell University Medical College, New York, New York 10021, USA.


Homeobox genes control the spatial identity and differentiation of tissues in the developing vertebrate embryo. Retinoids are signaling molecules involved in the regulation of Hox genes. We previously identified a 3' enhancer called the RAIDR5, which contained a DR5 retinoic acid response element (RARE) and was responsible for the retinoic acid (RA)-associated expression of the murine Hoxa-1 gene in teratocarcinoma cells. We demonstrate that a similar enhancer, which contains a DR5 RARE, is located at a DNase I-hypersensitive site 3' of the murine Hoxb-1 gene. This enhancer, the Hoxb-1 RAIDR5, regulates the RA responsiveness of the Hoxb-1 gene and is different in location and sequence from the RA-regulated 3' Hoxb-1 enhancers previously described. Several DNA elements within the murine Hoxa-1 RA-inducible RAIDR5 enhancer, including the DR5 RARE, conserved element (CE) 1, and CE2, are conserved in the murine Hoxb-1 RAIDR5 enhancer, the human homolog of Hoxa-1, and in the chicken Hoxb-1 gene. Gel shifts show that the CE2 sequence TATTTACTCA binds an RA-inducible factor, while UV cross-linking indicates that a 170-kDa protein binds to this sequence. Thus, the Hoxa-1 and Hoxb-1 genes possess 3' enhancers with similar sequences through which their expression and responsiveness to endogenous retinoids are controlled.

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