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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Jun 10;94(12):6462-7.

CCAAT/enhancer binding protein epsilon is preferentially up-regulated during granulocytic differentiation and its functional versatility is determined by alternative use of promoters and differential splicing.

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Clinical Gene Therapy Branch, National Human Genome Research Institute, Building 10, Room 10C103, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-1851, USA.


CCAAT/enhancer binding protein (C/EBP) epsilon is a recently cloned member of the C/EBP family of transcription factors and is expressed exclusively in cells of hematopoietic origin. The human C/EBPepsilon gene is transcribed by two alternative promoters, Palpha and Pbeta. A combination of differential splicing and alternative use of promoters generates four mRNA isoforms, of 2.6 kb and 1.3-1.5 kb in size. These transcripts can encode three proteins of calculated molecular mass 32.2 kDa, 27.8 kDa, and 14.3 kDa. Accordingly, Western blots with antibodies specific for the DNA-binding domain, that is common to all forms, identify multiple proteins. C/EBPepsilon mRNA was greatly induced during in vitro granulocytic differentiation of human primary CD34(+) cells. Retinoic acid treatment of HL60 promyelocytic leukemia cells for 24 hr induced C/EBPepsilon mRNA levels by 4-fold, while prolonged treatment gradually reduced mRNA expression to pretreatment levels. Transient transfection experiments with expression vectors for two of the isoforms demonstrated that the 32.2-kDa protein is an activator of transcription of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor receptor promoter, while the 14.3-kDa protein is not. Thus, C/EBPepsilon is regulated in a complex fashion and may play a role in the regulation of genes involved in myeloid differentiation.

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