Three non-allelic rat calmodulin (CaM) genes CaMIII, CaMII and CaMIII, which share no homology in their 5′-upstream regions, are coordinately expressed in neurons of the central nervous system (CNS). Deletion analysis of the CaMIII promoter showed that the upstream segments longer than 700 bases functioned as efficient promoters, and that the sequence from -133 to -65 was required for the activity of house-keeping type promoter in transient expression assays on a mouse glioma cell line C6. However, the transient expression seemed not to be cell type specific. To determine the temporal and spatial specificity of the promoter function, we produced transgenic mice carrying a fusion gene of the CaMIII segment from - 877 to + 103 and the lacZ reporter gene. In CNS of the adult transgenic mice, the localization of transgene expression was similar to that of endogenous CaMIII transcripts analyzed by in situ hybridization. The transgene was expressed prominently in pyramidal cells of the cerebral neocortex and the hippocampal regions CA1 to CA3, in Purkinje cells of the cerebellar cortex, and in neurons of the spinal cord, and moderately in granule cells of the dentate gyrus and the cerebellar cortex. In the developing CNS, the overall profiles of neuron-specific expression were also similar for both transgene and endogenous CaMIII that were expressed in the mantle layer and the dorsal root ganglia of the embryonal spinal cord. These results indicated that the neuron-specific expression of rat CaMIII was directed by this 877-base promoter sequence. The CaMIII segment used for the promoter of transgene contained a 29-bp sequence at -410, namely H3, which was conserved in the upstream regions of vertebrate CaMIII and CaMIII. H3 seemed to play a pivotal role in the temporal and spatial expression of transgene in CNS, although the deletion of H3 did not decrease CAT activity in the transient expression. The transgene expression was not observed in the external granular cells of the developing cerebellum and in some neurons of the embryonic sensory ganglia in which the endogenous CaMIII was obviously expressed. Therefore, the other cis-acting element(s) located outside of this 877-bp segment seemed to be required for the temporal regulation of CaMIII in certain rudimentary neurons.
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