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EMBO J. 1988 Sep;7(9):2687-95.

The genes for the alpha 1(IV) and alpha 2(IV) chains of human basement membrane collagen type IV are arranged head-to-head and separated by a bidirectional promoter of unique structure.

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  • 1Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie, Martinsried, FRG.


The human basement membrane specific collagen type IV is a heterotrimer composed of two alpha 1(IV) chains and one alpha 2(IV) chain. A partial genomic EcoRI library was screened with cDNA clones representing the 5' end regions of the alpha 1(IV) and the alpha 2(IV) mRNA. A 2.2-kb genomic fragment was isolated and sequenced, which contains the 5' terminal exons of both genes located in close vicinity. The two genes were found to be arranged in opposite direction, head-to-head, separated only by a short region of 127 bp, apparently representing promoters of both genes as indicated by the existence of typical sequence motifs (CAT-box, SP1 consensus sequence). These data suggest that the alpha 1(IV) and alpha 2(IV) genes use a common, bidirectional promoter. The striking symmetrical arrangement of sequence elements within the promoter may be of basic importance for the coordination of bidirectional transcription. The promoter region had no detectable transcriptional activity in transient gene expression assays after fusion to the chloramphenicol acetylase (CAT) gene in either direction, indicating the necessity of additional elements for efficient and tissue-specific expression of both genes. Constructs containing different segments of both genes failed to identify regions with enhancing activity for the homologous collagen type IV promoter. When the heterologous HSV thymidine kinase promoter was used, a negatively acting region was identified. This indicates that the alpha 1(IV) and alpha 2(IV) promoter activity is controlled by additional regulatory elements present on distant portions of both genes.

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