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J Biol Chem. 1994 May 20;269(20):14681-9.

Multiple, functional DBP sites on the promoter of the cholesterol 7 alpha-hydroxylase P450 gene, CYP7. Proposed role in diurnal regulation of liver gene expression.

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Laboratory of Molecular Carcinogenesis, NCI, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892.


Hepatic cytochrome P450 cholesterol 7 alpha-hydroxylase, CYP7, is regulated in vivo at the protein and the mRNA level in response to multiple physiological factors, including liver cholesterol synthesis, bile acid feedback inhibition, and diurnal rhythm. In the present study we investigated whether the liver transcription factor DBP (albumin promoter D-site binding protein), which undergoes a striking diurnal rhythm in rat liver (DBP levels during evening/morning approximately 100:1), contributes to the diurnal regulation of CYP7 gene expression. DNase I footprinting analysis using bacterially expressed DBP and a cloned 5'-flanking DNA segment of the rat CYP7 gene revealed five distinct DBP-binding sites, designated A-E, distributed between nucleotides (nts) -41 and -295 relative to the CYP7 transcription start site. CYP7-directed gene transcription in HepG2 cells transfected with a 5'-CYP7 promoter-chloramphenicol acetyl-transferase reporter was activated up to 12-fold upon cotransfection of a DBP expression vector, whereas an HNF-1 alpha expression vector did not stimulate CYP7 gene activity. 5'-Deletion analyses and site-specific mutagenesis revealed that this stimulating effect of DBP can in part be ascribed to its functional interaction with DBP binding sites B (nts -115/-125), C (nts -172/-195), and D (nts -214/-230). C/EBP beta (LAP), another liver-enriched basic-leucine zipper transcription factor, bound to these same sites but effected a more modest increase in CYP7-directed gene transcription (up to 3-4-fold) when expressed in HepG2 cells. Competition for CYP7 promoter-binding sites between C/EBP, which undergoes < or = 2-fold diurnal change in rat liver, and the diurnally regulated DBP is proposed to determine the relative rates of basal versus diurnally regulated CYP7 gene transcription and thus may be a primary mechanism for setting the 3-6-fold amplitude that characterizes the circadian rhythm of liver CYP7 expression. Moreover, since DBP is first expressed in rat liver 3-4 weeks after birth, these findings may account for both the enhanced expression and the onset of the diurnal pattern of CYP7 enzyme levels at this stage of development.

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