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J Biol Chem. 2003 Sep 26;278(39):37249-55. Epub 2003 Jul 14.

Transcriptional regulation by activation and repression elements located at the 5'-noncoding region of the human alpha9 nicotinic receptor subunit gene.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Universidad Miguel Hernández-Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 03550 San Juan, Alicante, Spain.


The alpha9 subunit is a component of the neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor gene superfamily that is expressed in very restricted locations. The promoter of the human gene has been analyzed in the human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y, where alpha9 subunit expression was detected, and in C2C12 cells that do not express alpha9. A proximal promoter region (from -322 to +113) showed maximal transcriptional activity in SH-SY5Y cells, whereas its activity in C1C12 cells was much lower. Two elements unusually located at the 5'-noncoding region exhibited opposite roles. A negative element located between +15 and +48 appears to be cell-specific because it was effective in C2C12 but not in SH-SY5Y cells, where it was counterbalanced by the presence of the promoter region 5' to the initiation site. An activating element located between +66 and +79 and formed by two adjacent Sox boxes increased the activity of the alpha9 promoter about 4-fold and was even able to activate other promoters. This element interacts with Sox proteins, probably through a cooperative mechanism in which the two Sox boxes are necessary. We propose that the Sox complex provides an initial scaffold that facilitates the recruiting of the transcriptional machinery responsible for alpha9 subunit expression.

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