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Nitsch, Doris; Boshart, Michael and Schütz, Günther (1993): Activation of the tyrosine aminotransferase gene is dependent on synergy between liver-specific and hormone-responsive elements. In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the USA, Vol. 90, No. 12: pp. 5479-5483 [PDF, 1MB]

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Tyrosine aminotransferase (TAT; L-tyrosine: 2-oxoglutarate aminotransferase, EC gene activity is stimulated by glucocorticoids and glucagon and is repressed by insulin. Expression and responsiveness to the different signal transduction pathways are restricted to the liver, in which the gene is activated shortly after birth. Here we provide a model for the basis of this tissue specificity of the hormonal control. In the two enhancers mediating hormone induction of TAT gene activity we find the hormone response elements in combination with binding sites for constitutive liver-enriched transcription factors: proteins of the hepatocyte nuclear factor 3 family bind in the vicinity of the glucocorticoid response element located 2.5 kb upstream of the transcription start site, while hepatocyte nuclear factor 4 interacts with an essential element in the cAMP-responsive enhancer at -3.6 kb. By juxtaposing the liver-specific element and the target sequence of the signal transduction pathway the regulatory properties of either enhancer can be reconstituted. Thus, the interdependence of the respective enhancer motifs restricts the hormonal activation of the TAT gene to the liver. The coincidence of the onset ofTAT gene expression around birth with the perinatal changes in the concentrations of glucocorticoids, glucagon, and insulin suggests cooperation of signal transduction pathways and cell type-specific transcription factors in the developmental activation of the TAT gene.

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