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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2002 Dec 12;1588(3):254-60.

A regulating element essential for PDGFRA transcription is recognized by neural tube defect-associated PRX homeobox transcription factors.

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Department of Cell Biology, Faculty of Science, University of Nijmegen, Toernooiveld 1, The Netherlands.


We have previously shown that deregulated expression of the platelet-derived growth factor alpha-receptor (PDGFRA) can be associated with neural tube defects (NTDs) in both men and mice. In the present study, we have investigated the transcription factors that control the up-regulation of PDGFRA expression during differentiation of early embryonic human cells in culture. In Tera-2 embryonal carcinoma cells, PDGFRA expression is strongly enhanced upon differentiation induced by retinoic acid and cAMP treatment. Here we show that the corresponding increase in promoter activity is controlled by an ATTA-sequence-containing element located near the transcription initiation site, which is bound by a transcriptional complex that includes PBX and PRX homeobox transcription factors. Mutation of the putative binding sites for these transcription factors results in strong impairment of PDGFRA promoter activity in differentiated cells. Since functional inactivation of Prx genes has been associated with NTDs in mice, these data support a model in which improper PDGFRA expression as a result of mutations in or altered binding of its upstream regulators may be causally related to NTDs.

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