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J Biol Chem. 1994 Dec 9;269(49):30789-97.

A single promoter directs both housekeeping and erythroid preferential expression of the human ferrochelatase gene.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 27599-7080.


We have isolated and characterized the 5'-flanking region of the gene for human ferrochelatase (HFC), the last enzyme of the heme biosynthetic pathway. The proximal promoter of the gene is contained within a region that structurally resembles a CpG island and is devoid of general cis elements such as TATA and CAAT boxes. Recognition sites for the ubiquitous Sp1 family of transcription factors, as well as for the erythroid-specific trans-acting factors NF-E2 and GATA-1 were found, and binding of regulatory proteins to these elements was analyzed by in vitro DNase I protection assays. The contribution of the various cis elements to both ubiquitous and erythroid preferential expression of the HFC gene was assessed by using transient transfection assays. These showed that a minimal Sp1-driven promoter devoid of the upstream erythroid-specific elements was sufficient for erythroid preferential expression of the HFC gene. However, elimination of a repressor sequence lying between the minimal promoter and the erythroid-specific elements resulted in high levels of expression in human erythroleukemic K562 cells only when the cis elements recognized by GATA-1 and NF-E2 were present, suggesting that the activity of these factors is regulated by a downstream repressor in erythroid cells.

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