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Gene. 1999 Feb 4;227(1):55-62.

Cell type specificity of the human endoglin promoter.

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Institut für Molekularbiologie und Tumorforschung (IMT), Philipps-Universität, Emil-Mannkopff-Strasse 2, D-35033, Marburg, Germany.


Endoglin is a component of the transforming growth factor-beta receptor complex whose expression is limited to a small number of cell types, including endothelial cells (ECs), activated monocytes, tissue macrophages and erythroid precursors. Of particular interest is its preferential expression in the vasculature of many malignant tumors, especially in view of potential therapeutic applications. We have cloned the human endoglin promoter, analyzed its structure and demonstrate that the isolated genomic fragment shows strong promoter activity in ECs (compared to other known EC-selective promoters), but not in epithelial cells and fibroblasts. These findings suggest that the endoglin promoter may prove a useful tool for the transcriptional targeting of ECs by gene therapy. We also determined the domains that are responsible for both efficient transcription and the observed preferential activity in ECs. The region around the major site of transcription initiation was found to be essential for transcription in both ECs and non-ECs. In contrast, cell type specificity does not appear to be governed by a single mechanism, but rather seems to be due to functionally distinct regulatory mechanisms acting on different upstream sequences.

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