Structure of the human neutrophil elastase gene
The gene for human neutrophil elastase (NE), a powerful serine protease carried by blood neutrophils and capable of destroying most connective tissue proteins, was cloned from a genomic DNA library of a normal individual. The NE gene consists of 5 exons and 4 introns included in a single copy 4-kilobase segment of chromosome 11 at q14. The coding exons of the NE gene predict a primary translation product of 267 residues including a 29-residue N-terminal precursor peptide and a 20-residue C-terminal precursor peptide. Analysis of the N-terminal peptide sequence suggests it contains a 27-residue "pre" signal peptide followed by a "proN" dipeptide, similar to that of other blood cell lysosomal proteases. The sequences for the mature 218-residue NE protein are included in exons II-V. The 5'-flanking region of the gene includes typical TATA, CAAT, and GC sequences within 61 base pairs (bp) of the cap site. The sequence 1.5 kilobases 5' to exon I contains several interesting repetitive sequences including six tandem repeats of unique 52- or 53-bp sequences. The 5'-flanking region also contains a 19-bp segment with 90% homology to a segment of the 5'-flanking region of the human myeloperoxidase (MPO) gene, a gene also expressed in bone marrow precursor cells and a protein stored in the same neutrophil granules as NE. In addition, like the MPO gene, the NE 5'-flanking region has several regions with greater than or equal to 75% homology to sequences 5' to c-myc, but there is no overlap between the NE-c-myc and MPO-c-myc homologous sequences.