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Biol Chem. 1997 Jan;378(1):11-8.

Cis-regulatory sequences from the first intron of the rat glutamine synthetase gene are involved in hepatocyte specific expression of the enzyme.

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  • 1Physiologisch-chemisches Institut, Universität Tübingen, Germany.


In order to identify regulatory elements involved in the hepatocyte specific expression of the enzyme glutamine synthetase [GS (E.C.] we analyzed the first intron of the rat GS gene. A sequence analysis detected clusters of potential transcription factor binding sites in regions that are hypersensitive for DNase I, including sites for Sp1, HNF3 and elements related to binding of members from the C/EBP family. By use of DNA fragments with putative regulatory elements, reporter genes have been constructed that were transfected into isolated hepatocytes in primary culture and into HepG2 hepatoblastoma cells. By these experiments we cold show that sequences from the first intron are able to enhance transcription specifically in hepatocytes but not in cells from the hepatoblastoma cell line. The existence of enhancer effects in the first intron of the GS gene and their restriction to hepatocytes demonstrates that aside from regulatory regions upstream of the transcription start point, there are also downstream regions involved in the specific expression of the gene. We conclude that intronic elements are involved in the pretranslational regulation of the expression of the GS as part of a complex interplay between different regions of the gene.

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