Identification and characterization of two proximal elements in the rat osteocalcin gene promoter that may confer species-specific regulation

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Cell Biology

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Document Type



Animals; Base Sequence; Binding Sites; Binding, Competitive; DNA; *Gene Expression Regulation; Humans; Molecular Sequence Data; Osteocalcin; Osteosarcoma; *Promoter Regions, Genetic; Rats; Species Specificity; Temperature; Transcription Factors; Transcription, Genetic; Tumor Cells, Cultured


Cell Biology


The rat osteocalcin gene encodes a 6-kD osteoblast-specific protein that is expressed post-proliferatively. The developmental and steroid hormone responsive expression of the osteocalcin gene is transcriptionally regulated by a promoter with multiple basal and enhancer elements that exhibit activity controlled by a series of physiological mediators (e.g., 1.25(OH)2D3, glucocorticoids). In this study, we established the contribution of the rat osteocalcin (OC) box domain (-99 to -76), a proximal basal element with a CCAAT motif as a central core, to transcriptional activity of the rat osteocalcin gene with in vivo co-transfection assays. By this same assay, however, the highly homologous (22 of 24 nt) human OC box element was unable to compete for transcription factor binding with the rat OC promoter. In vitro protein/DNA interaction studies confirm the presence of two protein binding sites in the OC box region, one of which overlaps the CCAAT motif and, at least in part, accounts for species-specific expression. Competition analysis established that the single nucleotide substitution of adenine for thymine, which converts the core motif of the rat OC box (CCAAT) to the core motif of the human OC box (CCAAA), accounts for observed species differences in transcription factor interactions. The CCAAT-specific protein/DNA interactions are heat stable and insensitive to phosphatase treatment. At second protein/DNA interaction located upstream of the CCAAT motif includes two steroid-like half-elements. These interactions are heat labile and sensitive to phosphatase treatment in contrast to the CCAAT-specific interactions. The human OC promoter contains only a single steroid-like half-element, while two steroid half-elements with an 11 nucleotide spacer are present in the rat OC promoter. These observed variations in sequence organization and transactivation factor binding in analogous proximal basal regulatory regions of the OC gene promoter may provide a basis for species-restricted variations in responsiveness to physiological mediators of OC gene expression at the transcriptional level.

DOI of Published Version



J Cell Biochem. 1993 Nov;53(3):240-50. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of cellular biochemistry

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