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J Biol Chem. 2005 Nov 18;280(46):38787-94. Epub 2005 Sep 13.

Distinct regulatory elements mediate similar expression patterns in the excretory cell of Caenorhabditis elegans.

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Department of Genome Science, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195-7730, USA.


Identification of cis-regulatory elements and their binding proteins constitutes an important part of understanding gene function and regulation. It is well accepted that co-expressed genes tend to share transcriptional elements. However, recent findings indicate that co-expression data show poor correlation with co-regulation data even in unicellular yeast. This motivates us to experimentally explore whether it is possible that co-expressed genes are subject to differential regulatory control using the excretory cell of Caenorhabditis elegans as an example. Excretory cell is a functional equivalent of human kidney. Transcriptional regulation of gene expression in the cell is largely unknown. We isolated a 10-bp excretory cell-specific cis-element, Ex-1, from a pgp-12 promoter. The significance of the element has been demonstrated by its capacity of converting an intestine-specific promoter into an excretory cell-specific one. We also isolated a cDNA encoding an Ex-1 binding transcription factor, DCP-66, using a yeast one-hybrid screen. Role of the factor in regulation of pgp-12 expression has been demonstrated both in vitro and in vivo. Search for occurrence of Ex-1 reveals that only a small portion of excretory cell-specific promoters contain Ex-1. Two other distinct cis-elements isolated from two different promoters can also dictate the excretory cell-specific expression but are independent of regulation by DCP-66. The results indicate that distinct regulatory elements are able to mediate the similar expression patterns.

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