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Hum Gene Ther. 1995 Jul;6(7):881-93.

Transcriptional regulatory sequences of carcinoembryonic antigen: identification and use with cytosine deaminase for tumor-specific gene therapy.

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Division of Cell Biology, Wellcome Research Laboratories, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA.


The 5' sequences from the human carcinoembryonic antigen gene (CEA) were analyzed using luciferase reporter gene assays. This analysis identified important cis-acting sequences needed for selective expression in CEA-positive cells. Over 50 CEA/luciferase reporter clones were constructed and analyzed in two CEA-positive and two CEA-negative cell lines. The CEA sequences analyzed extended from the translational start to 14.5 kb 5' of the CEA gene. A 408-bp region from the CEA 3' untranslated region was also examined for its effect on reporter gene activity. The CEA promoter was located between bases -90 and +69 of the transcriptional start site. Sequences between -41 and -18 were essential for expression from the CEA promoter. Multimerization of sequences between -89 and -40 resulted in copy number-related increases in both expression level and selectivity for CEA-positive cells. Two upstream regions of CEA, -13.6 to -10.7 kb or -6.1 to -4.0 kb, when linked to the multimerized promoter led to high-level, selective expression in CEA-positive cell lines. Several CEA/luciferase constructs demonstrated 80- to 120-fold higher expression in CEA-positive cell lines compared to expression in CEA-negative Hep3B cells. The expression from these constructs was quite strong in CEA-positive cells, being two- to four-fold higher than an SV40 enhancer/promoter construct. The most promising CEA transcriptional regulatory sequences were used to regulate the expression of cytosine deaminase (CD) in stable cell lines. The expression of CD was assessed directly by an enzymatic assay and indirectly by determining the in vitro IC50 to 5-fluorocytosine (5FC). The chimeric gene pCEA/CD-145 displayed the desired expression spectrum--high-level expression in the CEA-positive cells and low-level expression in CEA-negative cells. CD expression from this chimera correlated well with the expression of the endogenous CEA gene. Treatment of mice bearing NCI H508 pCEA/CD-145 tumor xenografts with 5FC lead to significant antitumor effects in vivo. The CEA/CD chimeric gene should be useful for tumor-specific suicide gene therapy of CEA-positive tumors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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