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Brain Res Mol Brain Res. 1999 Jan 22;64(1):92-100.

Stimulation of the myelin basic protein gene expression by 9-cis-retinoic acid and thyroid hormone: activation in the context of its native promoter.

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Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas, CSIC, c/ Arturo Duperier, 4, 28029, Madrid, Spain.


Thyroid hormone plays an important role in brain development, in part by regulating myelination. Previous studies have shown that the myelin basic protein (MBP) promoter is activated by thyroid hormone (T3) via a T3-response element (T3RE) at position -186. Surprisingly, although MBP levels are initially decreased in hypothyroid neonates, they approach later control levels, in most brain regions, despite persistent hypothyroidism. We have studied the T3-independent transcriptional regulation of this gene, using transient transfection assays. We found that, in the absence of T3, the RXR ligand, 9-cis-retinoic acid (9cRA) was able to stimulate transcription of the MBP promoter in a dose-dependent manner. This activation was unaffected by the mutation or deletion of the T3RE and required DNA sequences located between positions -162/+60. Accordingly, this MBP promoter fragment bound RXR in vitro. The 9cRA-dependent activation of the MBP promoter required the presence of both, the DNA binding and the ligand-dependent transactivation domain (AF-2) in RXR. Furthermore, as T3, 9cRA was able to stimulate MBP expression in the CG-4 cell line after differentiation to oligodendrocytes and increased the number of cells expressing the MBP protein in primary rat optic nerve glial cell cultures.

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