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J Virol. 1996 May;70(5):3207-14.

The enhancer domain of the human cytomegalovirus major immediate-early promoter determines cell type-specific expression in transgenic mice.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland 97201, USA.


The human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) major immediate-early promoter (MIEP) is one of the first promoters to activate upon infection. To examine HCMV MIEP tissue-specific expression, transgenic mice were established containing the lacZ gene regulated by the MIEP (nucleotides -670 to +54). In the transgenic mice, lacZ expression was demonstrated in 19 of 29 tissues tested by histochemical and immunochemical analyses. These tissues included brain, eye, spinal cord, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, kidney, bladder, testis, ovary, spleen, salivary gland, thymus, bone marrow, skin, cartilage, and cardiac, striated and smooth muscles. Although expression was observed in multiple organs, promoter activity was restricted to specific cell types. The cell types which demonstrated HCMV MIEP expression included retinal cells of the eye, ductile cells of the salivary gland, exocrine cells of the pancreas, mucosal cells of the stomach and intestine, neuronal cells of the brain, muscle fibers, thecal cells of the corpus luteum, and Leydig and sperm cells of the testis. These observations indicate that the HCMV MIEP is not a pan-specific promoter and that the majority of expressing tissues correlate with tissues naturally infected by the virus in the human host.

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