JOURNAL ARTICLE

Expression of the mouse gap junction gene Gjb3 is regulated by distinct mechanisms in embryonic stem cells and keratinocytes

Achim Plum, Gabi Hallas, Klaus Willecke
Genomics 2002, 79 (1): 24-30
11827454
Connexins are the protein subunits of gap junction channels and are expressed in a highly regulated temporal and spatial pattern in embryonic development and adult life, with most cell types expressing more than one isoform. Connexin31 (Cx31) is encoded by the gene Gjb3 and expressed throughout mouse development n a complex pattern; in adult mice it becomes restricted to the granular layer of epidermis, testis, and placenta. In placenta, lack of Cx31 leads to transient dysmorphogenesis affecting embryonic survival. Here we have analyzed the structure of mouse Gjb3 as well as its transcriptional regulation by transient transfection of reporter gene constructs in HM1 mouse embryonic stem cells and a mouse keratinocytederived cell line, Hel37, as model systems for early development and skin, respectively. Like most connexin genes, Gjb3 is composed of two exons, the second of which contains the whole coding region and is separated from the first exon by an intron of 2.3 kb. Expression in keratinocytes is regulated by a basal promoter extending to 561 bp upstream of exon 1 in conjunction with a regulatory region between upstream positions 561 and 841. In contrast, expression of Gjb3 in embryonic stem cells depended on the basal promoter together with the intron. The enhancing effect of the intron was found only in embryonic stem cells and depended on its native position and the integrity of the splice sites. Thus, expression of Gjb3 in keratinocytes and embryonic stem cells is regulated by different cis-regulatory elements and differs in its requirements for the intron in situ.

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