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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1993 Jul 15;90(14):6557-61.

Binding and transcriptional activation of the promoter for the neural cell adhesion molecule by HoxC6 (Hox-3.3).

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Department of Neurobiology, Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037.


Scores of homeobox gene-encoded transcription factors are expressed in a definite spatiotemporal pattern during embryogenesis and regulate a series of as yet unidentified target genes to help coordinate the morphogenetic process. We have suggested that homeobox gene products modulate the expression of adhesion molecule genes and have shown in cotransfection experiments that the promoters for the neural cell adhesion molecule (N-CAM) and cytotactin/tenascin genes respond to cues from different homeobox-containing genes. In this study, we show that the HoxC6 (Hox-3.3)-encoded homeoprotein binds to a DNA sequence in the N-CAM promoter CCTAATTATTAA, designated homeodomain binding site I (HBS-I). To test whether HoxC6 regulated N-CAM promoter activity, we cotransfected the Long and Short reading frame variants of Xenopus HoxC6 (CMV-HoxC6-L and CMV-HoxC6-S) driven by the human cytomegalovirus (CMV) promoter together with a chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT) reporter gene driven by the mouse N-CAM promoter (N-CAM-Pro-CAT). Cotransfection of NIH 3T3 cells with either of the CMV-HoxC6 expression vectors stimulated N-CAM promoter-driven CAT expression. A 47-bp region from the N-CAM promoter that included HBS-I and an adjacent potential HBS, HBS-II, conferred HoxC6 regulation on a simian virus 40 minimal promoter. HBS-I was sufficient for transactivation of the minimal promoter by CMV-HoxC6-S. However, transcriptional activation by CMV-HoxC6-L required both HBS-I and HBS-II, inasmuch as mutation of either HBS-I, HBS-II, or both motifs abolished the response. These studies suggest that HBS-I is a target site for binding and transcriptional control of the N-CAM promoter by homeoproteins, although accessory DNA sequences (such as HBS-II) may also be required. Together with previous studies, these results support the notion that N-CAM gene expression may be controlled by different combinations of homeoproteins that appear in a place-dependent manner during embryogenesis.

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