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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2001 Mar 19;1518(1-2):95-105.

Alternative splicing and tissue-specific transcription of human and rodent ubiquitous 5-aminolevulinate synthase (ALAS1) genes.

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Department of Medical Biochemistry, University of Wales College of Medicine, Heath Park, CF14 4XN, Cardiff, UK.


The rate of haem synthesis in non-erythroid mammalian tissues is controlled by the ubiquitous isoform of 5-aminolevulinate synthase (ALAS1). In order to explore the regulation of mammalian ALAS1 genes, we have investigated the transcription of the human and rat genes. The 17 kb human gene differs from the rat gene in containing an additional untranslated exon that is alternatively spliced to produce a longer, minor mRNA transcript. Relative amounts of the two transcripts were similar in all tissues examined. Analysis of mRNA transcripts in human and rat tissues revealed tissue-specific differences in the use of transcription start sites by closely similar core promoters. In brain, initiation was from sites within and upstream from the TATA box, including an initiator-like element. In liver, initiation was TATA-driven from a single downstream site that appeared to be used exclusively for induction by drugs. Intermediate patterns were observed in other tissues and cell lines. Mutation of the TATA box did not impair transcription in transfected HeLa cells but activated upstream start sites, recapitulating the brain pattern. Our findings indicate that the conformation of the core ALAS1 promoter that directs assembly of the transcription pre-initiation complex may vary between tissues and have implications for understanding the tissue-specific regulated expression of this gene.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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