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J Biol Chem. 1995 Apr 21;270(16):9313-21.

Increased alpha 1(I) procollagen gene expression in tight skin (TSK) mice myocardial fibroblasts is due to a reduced interaction of a negative regulatory sequence with AP-1 transcription factor.

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Department of Medicine, Jefferson Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107, USA.


The TSK mouse, a model of fibrosis, displays exaggerated connective tissue accumulation in skin and visceral organs including the heart. To study the mechanisms of myocardial fibrosis in TSK mice, we established several strains of TSK mice myocardial fibroblasts in culture and examined the regulation of collagen gene expression in these cells. These strains displayed increased collagen gene expression in comparison with myocardial fibroblasts established from normal mice. On an average, the TSK myocardial fibroblast cultures showed a 4-fold increase in collagen synthesis and 4.4- and 3.6-fold increases, respectively, in alpha 1(I) and alpha 1(III) collagen mRNA steady state levels. The increased alpha 1(I) and alpha 1(III) collagen mRNA levels were mainly due to increased transcription rates (3.4- and 3.8-fold higher, respectively) of the respective genes. Furthermore, we showed that the up-regulation of alpha 1(I) procollagen gene transcription in TSK mice myocardial fibroblasts was due to the lack of the strong inhibitory influence of a regulatory sequence contained in the promoter region encompassing nucleotides -675 to -804. Nuclear extracts from TSK mice myocardial fibroblasts showed lower DNA binding activity to oligonucleotides spanning the mapped regulatory sequence as well as to a consensus AP-1 sequence, but not to a consensus SP-1 sequence, and supershift experiments with an AP-1 antibody confirmed the interaction of these oligonucleotides with AP-1 protein. These observations indicate that a strong negative regulatory sequence contained within -0.675 to -0.804 kilobase of the alpha 1(I) procollagen promoter binds AP-1 transcription factor and mediates inhibition of gene transcription in normal murine myocardial fibroblasts. The TSK mice myocardial fibroblasts lack this inhibitory control, due to lower available amounts and/or decreased binding activity to this inhibitory sequence, and hence display increased alpha 1(I) procollagen gene expression.

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