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J Neurosci. 1998 Sep 1;18(17):6723-39.

Transcriptional regulation of the GluR2 gene: neural-specific expression, multiple promoters, and regulatory elements.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.


To understand how neurons control the expression of the AMPA receptor subunit GluR2, we cloned the 5' proximal region of the rat gene and investigated GluR2 promoter activity by transient transfection. RNase protection and primer extension of rat brain mRNA revealed multiple transcription initiation sites from -340 to -481 bases upstream of the GluR2 AUG codon. The relative use of 5' start sites was different in cortex and cerebellum, indicating complexity of GluR2 transcript expression among different sets of neurons. When GluR2 promoter activity was investigated by plasmid transfection into cultured cortical neurons, cortical glia, and C6 glioma cells, the promoter construct with the strongest activity, per transfected cell, was 29.4-fold (+/- 3.7) more active in neurons than in non-neural cells. Immunostaining of cortical cultures showed that >97% of the luciferase-positive cells also expressed the neuronal marker MAP-2. Evaluation of internal deletion and substitution mutations identified a functional repressor element I RE1-like silencer and functional Sp1 and nuclear respiratory factor-1 (NRF-1) elements within a GC-rich proximal GluR2 promoter region. The GluR2 silencer reduced promoter activity in glia and non-neuronal cell lines by two- to threefold, was without effect in cortical neurons, and could bind the RE1-silencing transcription factor (REST) because cotransfection of REST into neurons reduced GluR2 promoter activity in a silencer-dependent manner. Substitution of the GluR2 silencer by the homologous NaII RE1 silencer further reduced GluR2 promoter activity in non-neuronal cells by 30-47%. Maximal positive GluR2 promoter activity required both Sp1 and NRF-1 cis elements and an interelement nucleotide bridge sequence. These results indicate that GluR2 transcription initiates from multiple sites, is highly neuronal selective, and is regulated by three regulatory elements in the 5' proximal promoter region.

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