An A/G-rich motif in the rat fibroblast growth factor-2 gene confers enhancer activity on a heterologous promoter in neonatal rat cardiac myocytes

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We have cloned the rat fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF-2) promoter region including 1058 base pairs (bp) of 5′-flanking DNA. Complete sequencing of this promoter region revealed a 74 bp domain between nucleotides -793 and -720 that was greater than 97% A/G-rich. A repeat of the sequence 5′-AGGGAGGG-3′ separated by 11 bp was located at the core of this domain. A 37 bp A/G-rich oligonucleotide containing these AGGG-repeat sequences was synthesised, and tested for function on a minimal herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase (TK) promoter, fused to the firefly luciferase gene (TKp.luc), in transiently transfected neonatal rat cardiac myocytes. Promoter activity was stimulated ~3 fold in the presence of AGGG-repeat sequences. This effect was neither tissue or species-specific since TK promoter activity was increased ~11 fold in both rat and human glial tumor cells. Four specific complexes (C14) were detected between neonatal rat heart nuclear proteins and the 37 bp A/G-rich oligonucleotide by gel mobility shift assay. Competition with excess unlabelled 37 bp A/G-rich oligonucleotide revealed that two complexes represented very high affinity/specificity interactions (C2 > C4) while C1 and C3 were of lower affinity. As a result, competition with up to a 25 fold molar excess of 37 bp A/G-rich oligonucleotide led to the loss of C2 and C4, and a corresponding and transient increase in the levels of C1 and C3, which themselves were reduced with more competitor oligonucleotide. The AGGG-repeat resembles the 5′-gGGGAGGG-3′ sequence previously implicated in the response of the atrial natriuretic factor promoter to the α-adrenergic agonist, phenylephrine. Although an additional 1.5 fold increase in TK promoter activity was detected in the presence of the 37 bp A/G-rich oligonucleotide with phenylephrine treatment of transfected myocytes, this effect was not statistically significant. Furthermore, there was no difference in the gel mobility shift (C14) pattern obtained with the 37 bp A/G-rich oligonucleotide and nuclear protein isolated from neonatal rat cardiac myocytes grown in the presence or absence of norepinephrine. These data suggest that the A/G rich sequences in the rat FGF-2 gene 5′-flanking DNA, including the AGGG-repeat, are able to confer stimulatory activity on a promoter in a tissue- and species-independent manner, but alone are not able to induce a significant phenylephrine response in neonatal rat cardiac myocytes.

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