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Life Sci. 2002 Sep 20;71(18):2171-9.

Involvement of microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF) in expression of human melanocortin-1 receptor (MC1R).

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Shiseido Research Center, 2-2-1 Hayabuchi, Tsuzuki-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa 224-8558, Japan.


Analysis of the nucleotide sequence of human melanocortin-1 receptor (MC1R) promoter indicated that an E-box (CANNTG) is present immediately upstream of the transcriptional initiation site. The presence of the CATGTG motif suggests that MC1R gene expression may be regulated by a basic helix-loop-helix-leucine-zipper (bHLH-LZ) type transcription factor. The microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF), which belongs to the family of bHLH-LZ type transcription factors, regulates the transcription of melanogenesis-related enzyme genes such as the tyrosinase and TRP-1 genes. We investigated whether MITF regulates human MC1R gene expression through the same transcriptional mechanism as tyrosinase and TRP-1 genes in melanocytes. For this purpose, the effect of co-expression of cDNA encoding MITF on MC1R promoter activity in NIH/3T3 cells was studied. MC1R promoter activity was induced to the extent of approximately 5-fold in the presence of MITF. In addition, electrophoretic mobility shift assay indicated that nuclear extracts of human SK-Mel-2 cells contain a protein that binds specifically to the MC1R promoter region containing the CATGTG motif. These results suggested that MITF regulates not only the expression of enzymes involved in melanin synthesis, but also the expression of a receptor which plays an essential role in melanocyte functions.

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