JOURNAL ARTICLE

The transcription factor neural retina leucine zipper (NRL) controls photoreceptor-specific expression of myocyte enhancer factor Mef2c from an alternative promoter

Hong Hao, Padmaja Tummala, Eduardo Guzman, Raghuveer S Mali, Janina Gregorski, Anand Swaroop, Kenneth P Mitton
Journal of Biological Chemistry 2011 October 7, 286 (40): 34893-902
21849497
Neural retina leucine zipper (NRL) is an essential transcription factor for cell fate specification and functional maintenance of rod photoreceptors in the mammalian retina. In the Nrl(-/-) mouse retina, photoreceptor precursors fail to produce rods and generate functional cone photoreceptors that predominantly express S-opsin. Previous global expression analysis using microarrays revealed dramatically reduced expression of myocyte enhancer factor Mef2c in the adult Nrl(-/-) retina. We undertook this study to examine the biological relevance of Mef2c expression in retinal rod photoreceptors. Bioinformatics analysis, rapid analysis of cDNA ends (5'-RACE), and reverse transcription coupled with qPCR using splice site-specific oligonucleotides suggested that Mef2c is expressed in the mature retina from an alternative promoter. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) studies showed the association of active RNA polymerase II and acetylated histone H3 just upstream of Mef2c exon 4, providing additional evidence for the utilization of an alternative promoter in the retina. In concordance, we observed the binding of NRL to a putative NRL-response element (NRE) at this location by ChIP-seq and electrophoretic mobility shift assays. NRL also activated the Mef2c alternative promoter in vitro and in vivo. Notably, MEF2C could support Rhodopsin promoter activity in rod photoreceptors. We conclude that Mef2c expression from an alternative promoter in the retina is regulated by NRL. Our studies also implicate MEF2C as a transcriptional regulator of homeostasis in rod photoreceptor cells.

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