Human erythropoietin gene expression in transgenic mice: multiple transcription initiation sites and cis-acting regulatory elements

Gregg L Semenza, Raquel C. Dureza, Monica D. Traystman, John D. Gearhart, Stylianos E. Antonarakis

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Erythropoietin (EPO) is the primary humoral regulator of mammalian erythropoiesis. The single-copy EPO gene is normally expressed in liver and kidney, and increased transcription is induced by anemia or cobalt chloride administration. To identify cis-acting DNA sequences responsible for regulated expression, transgenic mice were generated by microinjection of a 4-kilobase-pair (kb) (tgEPO4) or 10-kb (tgEPO10) cloned DNA fragment containing the human EPO gene, 0.7 kb of 3′-flanking sequence, and either 0.4 or 6 kb of 5′-flanking sequence, respectively. tgEPO4 mice expressed the transgene in liver, where expression was inducible by anemia or cobalt chloride, kidney, where expression was not inducible, and other tissues that do not normally express EPO. Human EPO RNA in tgEPO10 mice was detected only in liver of anemic or cobalt-treated mice. Both tgEPO4 and tgEPO10 mice were polycythemic, demonstrating that the human EPO RNA transcribed in liver is functional. These results suggest that (i) a liver inducibility element maps within 4 kb encompassing the gene, 0.4 kb of 5′-flanking sequence, and 0.7 kb of 3′-flanking sequence; (ii) a negative regulatory element is located between 0.4 and 6 kb 5′ to the gene; and (iii) sequences required for inducible kidney expression are located greater than 6 kb 5′ or 0.7 kb 3′ to the gene. RNase protection analysis revealed that human EPO RNA in anemic transgenic mouse liver and hypoxic human hepatoma cells is initiated from several sites, only a subset of which is utilized in nonanemic transgenic liver and human fetal liver.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)930-938
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular and Cellular Biology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1990


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cell Biology

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