Identification of a 27 bp 5′-flanking region element responsible for the low level constitutive expression of the human cytosolic phospholipase A2 gene
The cytosolic phospholipase A2 (cPLA2) gene codes for an enzyme that liberates arachidonic acid from membrane phospholipids, and thus plays a pivotal role in the production of the prostaglandin and leukotriene mediators of inflammation, as well as in a variety of cell signalling pathways. After preliminary studies demonstrated the cPLA2 gene is expressed in a variety of human tissues and was localized to the q arm of chromosome 1 between markers F13B and D1S74, we cloned and characterized the 5'-flanking region of this gene in order to identify the elements controlling its low level constitutive expression. The 5'-flanking region has features typical of a housekeeping gene with no TATA box or CAAT box, although atypical in that it is not GC rich, has no SP1 sites, and has a long run of CA repeats. Analysis of fragments of the 5'-flanking region demonstrated that 541 bp 5' to exon 1 supported reporter gene activity at a level 30% of the SV40 promoter. Interestingly, similar activity was observed by deleting most of the 5'-flanking region down to a 27 bp region containing a sequence with homology to the initiator sequence in the terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase gene and a polypyrimidine tract similar to the initiator element of the mouse ribosomal protein gene. Within this 27 bp region, a 10 bp fragment (-17 to -8 bp) within the polypyrimidine tract is critical for the baseline expression of the human cPLA2 gene. While the 5'-flanking region contains a putative composite AP-1 and glucocorticoid response element, this region does not respond to tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF) and/or glucocorticoids in a cell line (HEp-2) that exhibits upregulation of cPLA2 mRNA transcript levels by TNF. The observations that the expression of the cPLA2 gene is tightly controlled at a relatively low level is consistent with the evolving concept that modulation of expression of this critical enzyme is primarily at the post-translational level.