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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2005 Jan 21;1727(1):45-57. Epub 2004 Dec 31.

Transcriptional regulation of the human reduced folate carrier promoter C: synergistic transactivation by Sp1 and C/EBP beta and identification of a downstream repressor.

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Department of Pharmacology, Wayne State University, School of Medicine, Detroit, MI, USA.


The human reduced folate carrier (hRFC) is ubiquitously but differentially expressed in human tissues and its levels are regulated by up to six alternatively spliced non-coding regions (designated A1/A2, A, B, C, D, and E) and by at least four promoters. By transient transfections of HepG2 human hepatoma cells with 5' and 3' deletion constructs spanning 2883 bp of upstream sequence, a transcriptionally important region was localized to within 177 bp flanking the transcriptional start sites for exon C. By gel shift and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays, Sp1 and C/EBP beta transcription factors were found to bind consensus elements (GC-box, CCAAT-box) within this region. The functional importance of these elements was confirmed by transient tranfections of HepG2 cells with hRFC-C reporter constructs in which these elements were mutated, and by co-transfections of Drosophila SL-2 cells with wild-type hRFC-C promoter and expression constructs for Sp1 and C/EBP beta. Whereas both Sp1 and C/EBP beta transactivated hRFC-C promoter activity, C/EBP alpha and gamma were transcriptionally inert. Sp1 combined with C/EBP beta resulted in a synergistic transactivation. In HepG2 cells, transfections with Sp1 and C/EBP beta both increased endogenous levels of hRFC-C transcripts. By 3' deletion analysis, a repressor sequence was localized to within 71 bp flanking the minimal promoter. On gel shifts, a novel transcriptional repressor was localized to within 30 bp. Collectively, these results identify transcriptionally important regions in the hRFC-C minimal promoter that include a GC-box and CCAAT-box, and suggest that cooperative interactions between Sp1 and C/EBP beta are essential for hRFC-C transactivation. Another possible factor in the tissue-specific regulation of the hRFC-C region involves the downstream repressor flanking the minimal promoter.

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