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J Biol Chem. 1997 Jan 17;272(3):1842-8.

Molecular cloning, characterization, and regulation of the human mitochondrial serine hydroxymethyltransferase gene.

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  • 1Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA.


The human mitochondrial serine hydroxymethyltransferase (mSHMT) gene was isolated, sequenced, and characterized. The 4.5-kilobase gene contains 10 introns and 11 exons, with all splice junctions conforming to the GT/AG rule. The 5' promoter region contains consensus motifs for several regulatory proteins including PEA-3, Sp-1, AP-2, and a CCCTCCC motif common to many genes expressed in liver. Consensus TATA or CAAT sequence motifs are not present, and primer extension and 5'-rapid amplification of cDNA ends studies suggest that transcription initiation occurs at multiple sites. The mitochondrial leader sequence region of the deduced mRNA contains two potential ATG start sites, which are encoded by separate exons. The intervening 891-base pair intron contains consensus promoter elements suggesting that mSHMT may be transcribed from alternate promoters. 5'-Rapid amplification of cDNA ends analysis demonstrated that the first ATG is transcribed in human MCF-7 cells. However, transfection of Chinese hamster ovary cells deficient in mSHMT activity with the human mSHMT gene lacking exon 1 overcame the cell's glycine auxotrophy and restored intracellular glycine concentrations to that observed in wild-type cells, showing that exon 1 is not essential for mSHMT localization or activity and that translation initiation from the second ATG is sufficient for mSHMT import into the mitochondria. Mitochondrial SHMT mRNA levels in MCF-7 cells did not vary during the cell cycle and were not affected by the absence of glycine, serine, folate, thymidylate, or purines from the media.

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