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In recent years it has become apparent that tropic hormones involved in steroidogenesis act to regulate the expression of the enzymes involved in the various steroidogenic pathways. This is particularly evident in the ovary where the episodic secretion of steroids throughout the ovarian cycle is regulated largely by changes in the levels of the particular enzymes involved in each step of the steroid biosynthetic pathways. Recently, the genes for the various cytochrome P450 species involved in ovarian steroidogenesis, namely cholesterol side-chain cleavage P450 (P450SCC), 17 alpha-hydroxylase P450 (P450(17 alpha], and aromatase cytochrome P450 (P450AROM) have been isolated and characterized, making it possible to study the regulation of expression at the molecular level. To this end, a series of chimeric constructs have been prepared in which fragments of the 5'-untranslated region of bovine P450(17 alpha) and P450SCC have been inserted upstream of the chloramphenicol acetyl transferase (CAT) and beta-globin reporter genes. These constructs have been used to transfect primary cultures of bovine luteal and thecal cells. The results indicate that cAMP responsiveness lies within defined regions of genes which do not contain a classical CRE, similar to previous results utilizing adrenal cells in culture. Furthermore, although constructs containing both the P450(17 alpha) and P450SCC 5'-upstream regions are expressed in both luteal and thecal cell cultures, only those containing the P450SCC sequences are expressed in luteal cells. Studies on the expression of P450AROM indicate that the promoter which is responsible for its expression in human placenta is not operative in the corpus luteum. Thus estrogen biosynthesis may be regulated by the differential use of tissue specific promoters, thus accounting for the complexity and multifactorial nature of the expression of this activity.
Fragile X syndrome results from mutations in a (CGG)n repeat found in the coding sequence of the FMR-1 gene. Analysis of length variation in this region in normal individuals shows a range of allele sizes varying from a low of 6 to a high of 54 repeats. Premutations showing no phenotypic effect in fragile X families range in size from 52 to over 200 repeats. All alleles with greater than 52 repeats, including those identified in a normal family, are meiotically unstable with a mutation frequency of one, while 75 meioses of alleles of 46 repeats and below have shown no mutation. Premutation alleles are also mitotically unstable as mosaicism is observed. The risk of expansion during oogenesis to the full mutation associated with mental retardation increases with the number of repeats, and this variation in risk accounts for the Sherman paradox.
Fragile X syndrome is the most frequent form of inherited mental retardation and is associated with a fragile site at Xq27.3. We identified human YAC clones that span fragile X site-induced translocation breakpoints coincident with the fragile X site. A gene (FMR-1) was identified within a four cosmid contig of YAC DNA that expresses a 4.8 kb message in human brain. Within a 7.4 kb EcoRI genomic fragment, containing FMR-1 exonic sequences distal to a CpG island previously shown to be hypermethylated in fragile X patients, is a fragile X site-induced breakpoint cluster region that exhibits length variation in fragile X chromosomes. This fragment contains a lengthy CGG repeat that is 250 bp distal of the CpG island and maps within a FMR-1 exon. Localization of the brain-expressed FMR-1 gene to this EcoRI fragment suggests the involvement of this gene in the phenotypic expression of the fragile X syndrome.
The molecular basis of 17 alpha-hydroxylase/17,20-lyase deficiency syndrome in a 14-yr-old 46,XY Italian patient was investigated by amplification, subcloning, and sequencing of specific exonic sequences from genomic DNA samples. A homozygous mutation, consisting of a 518-basepair (bp) deletion combined with a 469-bp insertion, was identified in the CYP17 gene of the patient. The deletion spans much of exon II, the whole intron 2, and a portion of exon III. A part (156 bp) of the inserted sequence shows 95.5% identity to the nuclear antigen-binding site on Marek disease virus DNA and sequences found in rearranged mitochondrial DNA of rat hepatoma cells. A similar degree of sequence identity (99%) was also found between the above sequences and part of the lac operon of E. coli. The inserted sequence is lacking the BamHI site in intron 2 of CYP17 and contains an in-frame stop codon (TAA). Thus, the mutated gene encodes a truncated nonfunctional steroid hydroxylase, giving rise to symptoms associated with complete combined 17 alpha-hydroxylase/17,20-lyase deficiency. The family history revealed that the patient is the child of a consanguineous marriage and has two genotypically and phenotypically female sisters also suffering from symptoms of the disease. Investigation of genomic DNA from these sisters revealed that in each case both CYP17 alleles contained the same mutation. On the other hand, the parents were found to be heterozygous for this mutation. The insertion could not be found in DNA from normal individuals or in the CYP17 gene of other Italian patients with the 17 alpha-hydroxylase deficiency syndrome.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
Ltk is a new member of the ros/insulin receptor family of tyrosine kinases that is expressed in murine B-lymphocyte precursors and forebrain neurons. We previously reported that lymphoid ltk cDNAs predict a 69 kDa transmembrane glycoprotein, which uses a CUG translational start codon and has a 110 amino acid putative extracellular domain. We now show that the predominant ltk mRNA in brain is alternatively spliced and predicts a protein with a substantially larger extracellular part. The human ltk gene maps to chromosome 15, bands q13-21, a region containing the breakpoint of a recurring chromosomal abnormality in B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas.
Glucokinase contributes to the maintenance of blood glucose homeostasis by catalyzing the high Km phosphorylation of glucose in the liver and the pancreatic beta cell, the only two tissues known to express this enzyme. Molecular biological studies of the glucokinase gene and its products have advanced our understanding of how this gene is differentially regulated in the liver and beta cell. The production of an active glucokinase isoform is determined by both transcriptional and post-transcriptional events. Two different promoter regions that are widely separated in a single glucokinase gene are used to produce glucokinase mRNAs in the liver, pancreatic beta cell, and pituitary. The different transcription control regions are tissue-specific in their expression and are differentially regulated. In liver, glucokinase gene expression is regulated by insulin and cAMP, whereas in the beta cell it is regulated by glucose. The upstream glucokinase promoter region, which gives rise to the glucokinase mRNA in pituitary and pancreas, is structurally and functionally different from the downstream promoter region, which gives rise to the glucokinase mRNA in liver. The use of distinct promoter regions in a single glucokinase gene enables a different set of transcription factors to be utilized in the liver and islet, thus allowing a functionally similar gene product to be regulated in a manner consistent with the different functions of these two tissues. In addition, the splicing of the glucokinase pre-mRNA is regulated in a tissue-specific manner and can affect the activity of the gene product.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
The presence of estrogen receptor (ER) is a well-known predictor of clinical outcome in human breast cancer. We examined the ER gene in 26 primary breast cancers (14 ER-positive, 12 ER-negative) to determine if alterations of the gene are associated with the ER-negative status. In tumor biopsies and peripheral blood DNA obtained from the same patients we analyzed the ER exon structure using polymerase chain reaction amplification, restriction endonuclease digestion, and agarose gel electrophoresis. All blood and tumor samples, regardless of ER status, showed a complete set of eight exons of normal sizes, ruling out deletions or rearrangements of the ER gene in excess of +/- 20 nucleotides. Previous reports indicate that the two-allele ER PvuII polymorphism could be associated with ER expression in breast cancer (Hill et al., Cancer Res., 49: 145-148, 1989) as well as with patient age at time of tumor diagnosis (Parl et al., Breast Cancer Res. Treat., 14: 57-64, 1989). We localized the PvuII polymorphism in intron 1, 0.4 kilobase upstream of exon 2. Sequence analysis showed the polymorphism to result from a point mutation (T----C) at the fifth position of the restriction site (CATCTG). We determined the PvuII restriction fragment-length polymorphism genotype in 257 primary breast cancers and 140 peripheral blood DNA samples obtained from women without breast cancer. The results indicate that the PvuII polymorphism is not associated with ER content or patient age at tumor diagnosis.
Fragile X syndrome is the most frequent form of inherited mental retardation and segregates as an X-linked dominant with reduced penetrance. Recently, we have identified the FMR-1 gene at the fragile X locus. Two molecular differences of the FMR-1 gene have been found in fragile X patients: a size increase of an FMR-1 exon containing a CGG repeat and abnormal methylation of a CpG island 250 bp proximal to this repeat. Penetrant fragile X males who exhibit these changes typically show repression of FMR-1 transcription and the presumptive absence of FMR-1 protein is believed to contribute to the fragile X phenotype. It is unclear, however, if either or both molecular differences in FMR-1 gene is responsible for transcriptional silencing. We report here the prenatal diagnosis of a male fetus with fragile X syndrome by utilizing these molecular differences and show that while the expanded CGG-repeat mutation is observed in both the chorionic villi and fetus, the methylation of the CpG island is limited to the fetal DNA (as assessed by BssHII digestion). We further demonstrate that FMR-1 gene expression is repressed in the fetal tissue, as is characteristic of penetrant males, while the undermethylated chorionic villi expressed FMR-1. Since the genetic background of the tissues studied is identical, including the fragile X chromosome, these data indicate that the abnormal methylation of the FMR-1 CpG-island is responsible for the absence of FMR-1 transcription and suggests that the methylation may be acquired early in embryogenesis.