Identification of a placental-specific enhancer in the rat placental lactogen II gene that contains binding sites for members of the Ets and AP-1 (activator protein 1) families of transcription factors.
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We previously identified a 3-kb proximal 5'-flanking region of the rat placental lactogen (rPLII) gene that is important for reporter gene transcription in the rat trophoblast cell line, Rcho, and targets expression to the placentas of transgenic mice. In our current studies we have used further deletion analysis and transfection studies in Rcho and GC cells to map more precisely the locations of regulatory elements involved in this placental expression. We show that sequences between - 1435 and -765 are necessary for minimal expression in Rcho cells and that there are negative regulatory elements between -3031 to -2838 and -1729 to -1435. Most importantly, we have identified a fragment between -1793 to -1729 that is essential for expression levels characteristic of the complete 3-kb 5'-region. When linked to the herpes simplex thymidine kinase minimal promoter, this fragment acts as an enhancing element in Rcho but not GC cells. Deoxyribonuclease I (DNAse I) protection and electrophoretic mobility shift assays with nuclear extracts and in vitro translated proteins identify binding sites for members of the activator protein-1 (AP-1) and Ets families of transcription factors. Site-directed mutagenesis of the individual AP-1- and Ets-binding sites leads to a partial loss of the enhancing activity; a double AP-1/Ets mutation leads to a complete loss of activity, demonstrating the functional importance of these sites. By these criteria, putative GATA-binding sites located within the enhancing fragment are not active. These new data suggest an important role for this enhancing fragment in rPLII placental giant cell expression and are the first to implicate a member of the Ets family in the regulation of this gene family.