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Nucleic Acids Res. 2006 Apr 28;34(8):2154-65. Print 2006.

The human vitamin D-binding protein gene contains locus control determinants sufficient for autonomous activation in hepatic chromatin.

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Department of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


The human vitamin D-binding protein (hDBP) gene is a member of a cluster that includes albumin, alpha-fetoprotein and alpha-albumin genes. The common origin, physical linkage and hepatic expression of these four genes predict shared regulatory element(s). However, separation of hDBP from the other three genes by 1.5 Mb argues that hDBP may be under autonomous control. To test for hDBP autonomy, mouse lines were generated with a transgene containing the hDBP gene along with extensive flanking sequences. Expression of this transgene was hepatic, robust and proportional to transgene copy number. DNase I hypersensitive site (HS) mapping revealed five liver-specific HS at the hDBP locus: HSI and HSIII at -2.1 kb and -0.13 kb upstream of the transcription initiation site, HSIV and HSV within intron 1 and HSVII located 3' to the poly(A) site. A second transgene with minimal flanking sequences confirmed the sufficiency of these gene-proximal determinants for hepatic activation. The hepatic-specific HS aligned with segments of phylogenetically conserved non-coding sequences. These data demonstrate the autonomy of the hDBP locus and suggest that this control is mediated by chromatin-based locus control determinants in close proximity to, and within the transcription unit.

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