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J Biol Chem. 2002 Apr 12;277(15):13099-105. Epub 2002 Jan 25.

Regulation of intestine-specific spatiotemporal expression by the rat lactase promoter.

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Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University Medical Center, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


Lactase gene transcription is spatially restricted to the proximal and middle small intestine of the developing mouse. To identify regions of the lactase gene involved in mediating the spatiotemporal expression pattern, transgenic mice harboring 0.8-, 1.3-, and 2.0-kb fragments of the 5'-flanking region cloned upstream of a firefly-luciferase reporter were generated. Transgene expression was assessed noninvasively in living mice using a sensitive low light imaging system. Two independent, 1.3- and 2.0-kb, lactase promoter-reporter transgenic lines expressed appropriate high levels of luciferase activity in the small intestine (300-3,000 relative light units/microg) with maximal expression in the middle segments. Post-weaned 30-day transgenic offspring also demonstrated an appropriate 4-fold maturational decline in luciferase expression in the small intestine. The pattern of the 2.0-kb promoter transgene mRNA abundance most closely mimicked that of the endogenous lactase gene with respect to spatiotemporal restriction. In contrast, a 0.8-kb promoter-reporter construct expressed low level luciferase activity (<25 relative light units/microg) in multiple organs and throughout the gastrointestinal tract in transgenic mice. Thus, a distinct 5'-region of the lactase promoter directs intestine-specific expression in the small intestine of transgenic mice, and regulatory sequences have been localized to a 1.2-kb region upstream of the lactase transcription start site. In addition, we have demonstrated that in vivo bioluminescence imaging can be utilized for assessment of intestinal expression patterns of a luciferase reporter gene driven by lactase promoter regions in transgenic mice.

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