The Sp family of transcription factors in the regulation of the human and mouse MUC2 gene promoters

F Aslam, L Palumbo, L H Augenlicht, A Velcich
Cancer Research 2001 January 15, 61 (2): 570-6
Modulation of mucin gene expression is an important component both in the early steps of colon cancer development and in later tumor progression. Previous work from our laboratory and others has suggested that the Sp family of transcription factors may play an important role in the regulation of the human MUC2 gene. To determine whether this was an essential element, we extended our work to the cloning and analysis of 3.5 kb of the 5'-flanking region of the mouse Muc2 (mMuc2) gene. Comparative analysis between the mouse and human MUC2 promoter regions has identified a strong sequence homology between the mouse and human genes, including the presence of GC-rich boxes, the location and composition of which are maintained in the mouse and human genes. We show that these GC boxes are binding sites for Sp-family transcription factors and are functionally important since mithramycin, an inhibitor of Sp1/Sp3 binding, blocks MUC2 gene expression in HT29 cells. Furthermore, by a combination of gel shift analysis and site-directed mutagenesis, we have identified the relative contribution of individual GC boxes, and of the factors they bind, to the regulation of the mouse Muc2 promoter, which appears to be different in the mouse and human genes. Finally, we demonstrate by overexpressing Sp1 and Sp3 that the functional difference between the proximal promoter region of the MUC2 gene in the two species is not attributable to differential ability of this region to bind members of the Sp family of transcription factors, but rather to the different anatomy of the individual GC boxes in the mouse and human proximal promoters.

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