Intestinal apolipoprotein AI gene transcription is regulated by multiple distinct DNA elements and is synergistically activated by the orphan nuclear receptor, hepatocyte nuclear factor 4.
We have used apolipoprotein genes to investigate the signal transduction mechanisms involved in the control of intestinal specific gene expression. The human apoAI, apoCIII, and apoAIV genes are tandemly organized within a 15-kb DNA segment and are expressed predominantly in the liver and intestine. Transient transfection of various human apoAI gene plasmid constructs into human hepatoma (HepG2) and colon carcinoma (Caco-2) cells showed that apoAI gene transcription is under the control of two separate and distinct cell-specific promoters. The region between nucleotides -192 and -41 is essential for expression in HepG2 cells, whereas the region from -595 to -192 is essential for expression in Caco-2 cells. A third 0.6 kb DNA fragment in the apoCIII gene promoter region, approximately 5 kb down-stream from the human apoAI gene, enhances transcription mediated by either of these two tissue-specific apoAI promoters. In Caco-2 cells, expression of the apoAI gene and activation by the distal enhancer required the presence of a nuclear hormone receptor response element (NHRRE) located in the -214 to -192 apoAI promoter region. Overexpression of the orphan receptor hepatocyte nuclear factor 4 (HNF-4), which binds to the NHRRE, dramatically stimulates apoAI gene expression in Caco-2 cells but not in HepG2 cells. Maximal stimulation of transcription by HNF-4 in Caco-2 cells required the presence of both the intestinal specific promoter, the NHRRE, and distal enhancer elements. Transactivation by HNF-4 thus appears to result from functional synergy between the NHRRE binding HNF-4 and distal DNA elements containing intestinal-specific DNA binding activities. The apoAI gene provides a model system to define the mechanism(s) governing intestinal cell specific gene regulation and the role of nuclear hormone receptors in the establishment and regulation of enterocytic gene transcription.
Ginsburg, GS; Ozer, J; Karathanasis, SK
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