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J Biol Chem. 1999 May 14;274(20):14344-51.

Genomic cloning and promoter analysis of aortic preferentially expressed gene-1. Identification of a vascular smooth muscle-specific promoter mediated by an E box motif.

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  • 1Cardiovascular Biology Laboratory, Harvard School of Public Health, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Aortic preferentially expressed gene-1 (APEG-1) was originally identified as a 1.4-kilobase (kb) transcript preferentially expressed in differentiated vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC). Its expression is markedly down-regulated in de-differentiated VSMC, suggesting a role for APEG-1 in VSMC differentiation. We have now determined that APEG-1 is a single-copy gene in the human, rat, and mouse genomes and have mapped human APEG-1 to chromosome 2q34. To study the molecular mechanisms regulating its expression, we characterized the genomic organization and promoter of mouse APEG-1. APEG-1 spans 4.5 kb in the mouse genome and is composed of five exons. Using reporter gene transfection analysis, we found that a 2. 7-kb APEG-1 5'-flanking sequence directed a high level of promoter activity only in VSMC. Its activity was minimal in five other cell types. A repressor region located within an upstream 685-base pair sequence suppressed the activity of this 2.7-kb promoter. Further deletion and mutation analyses identified an E box motif as a positive regulatory element, which was bound by nuclear protein prepared from VSMC. In conjunction with its flanking sequence, this E box motif confers VSMC-specific enhancer activity to a heterologous SV40 promoter. To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of an E box motif that mediates gene expression restricted to VSMC.

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