Analysis of the VMD2 Promoter and Implication of E-box Binding Factors in Its Regulation

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74 Scopus citations


The retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) is crucial for the normal development and function of retinal photoreceptors, and mutations in several genes that are preferentially expressed in the RPE have been shown to cause retinal degeneration. We analyzed the 5′-upstream region of human VMD2, a gene that is preferentially expressed in the RPE and, when mutated, causes Best macular dystrophy. Transgenic mouse studies with VMD2 promoter/lacZ constructs demonstrated that a -253 to +38 bp fragment is sufficient to direct RPE-specific expression in the eye. Transient transfection assays using the D407 human RPE cell line with VMD2 promoter/luciferase reporter constructs identified two positive regulatory regions, -585 to -541 bp for high level expression and -56 to -42 bp for low level expression. Mutation of a canonical E-box located in the -56 to -42 bp region greatly diminished luciferase expression in D407 cells and abolished the bands shifted with bovine RPE nuclear extract in electrophoretic mobility shift assays. Independently a candidate approach was used to select microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF) for testing because it is expressed in the RPE and associated with RPE abnormalities when mutated. MITF-M significantly increased luciferase expression in D407 cells in an E-box-dependent manner. These studies define the VMD2 promoter region sufficient to drive RPE-specific expression in the eye, identify positive regulatory regions in vitro, and suggest that MITF as well as other E-box binding factors may act as positive regulators of VMD2 expression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19064-19073
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number18
StatePublished - Apr 30 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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