Nitsch, Doris; Boshart, Michael; Schütz, Günther (1993): Extinction of tyrosine aminotransferase gene activity in somatic cell hybrids involves modification and loss of several essential transcription factors. In: Genes and Development, Vol. 7: S. 308-319




Extinction is defined as the loss of cell type-specific gene expression that occurs in somatic cell hybrids derived by fusion of cells with dissimilar phenotypes. To explore the basis of this dominant-negative regulation, we have studied the activities of the control elements of the liver-specific gene encoding tyrosine aminotransferase (TAT) in hepatoma/fibroblast hybrid crosses. We show that extinction in complete somatic cell hybrids is accompanied by the loss of activity of all known cell type-specific control elements of the TAT gene. This inactivity is the result of first, lack of expression of genes coding for the transcriptional activators HNF4 and HNF3[~ and HNF33,, which bind to essential elements of the enhancers; and second, loss of in vivo binding and activity of ubiquitous factors to these enhancers, including CREB, which is the target for repression by the tissue-specific extinguisher locus TSE1. Complete extinction of TAT gene activity is therefore a multifactorial process affecting all three enhancers controlling liver-specific and hormone-inducible expression. It results from lack of activation, rather than active repression, and involves both post-translational modification and loss of essential transcriptional activators.