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Dev Biol. 1998 Feb 1;194(1):18-37.

The developmentally regulated expression of serum response factor plays a key role in the control of smooth muscle-specific genes.

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  • 1Department of Structural and Cellular Biology, University of South Alabama, Mobile, Alabama, 36688, USA.

Abstract

Serum response factor (SRF) is a MADS box transcription factor that has been shown to be important in the regulation of a variety of muscle-specific genes. We have previously shown SRF to be a major component of multiple cis/trans interactions found along the smooth muscle gamma-actin (SMGA) promoter. In the studies reported here, we have further characterized the role of SRF in the regulation of the SMGA gene in the developing gizzard. EMSA analyses, using nuclear extracts derived from gizzards at various stages in development, showed that the SRF-containing complexes were not present early in gizzard smooth muscle development, but appeared as development progressed. We observed an increase in SRF protein and mRNA levels during gizzard development by Western and Northern blot analyses, with a large increase just preceding an increase in SMGA expression. Thus, changes in SRF DNA-binding activity were paralleled with increased SRF gene expression. Immunohistochemical analyses demonstrated a correspondence of SRF and SMGA expression in differentiating visceral smooth muscle cells (SMCs) during gizzard tissue development. This correspondence of SRF and SMGA expression was also observed in cultured smooth muscle mesenchyme induced to express differentiated gene products in vitro. In gene transfer experiments with SMGA promoter-luciferase reporter gene constructs we observed four- to fivefold stronger SMGA promoter activity in differentiated SMCs relative to replicating visceral smooth muscle cells. Further, we demonstrate the ability of a dominant negative SRF mutant protein to specifically inhibit transcription of the SMGA promoter in visceral smooth muscle, directly linking SRF with the control of SMGA gene expression. Taken together, these data suggest that SRF plays a prominent role in the developmental regulation of the SMGA gene.

Copyright 1998 Academic Press.

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