Transcriptional repression of serum amyloid A1 by AP-2 contributes to its liver-specific expression

Yongsheng Ren, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Studies on the transcriptional regulation of serum amyloid A1 (SAA1) gene, a liver specific acute-phase gene, identified a regulatory element in its promoter that functioned to repress (SAA1) gene transcription in nonliver cells. This silencer element interacts with a nuclear protein that is detectable in HeLa cells, fibroblasts and placental tissues but not in liver or liver-derived cells. As the expression pattern of this repressor is consistent with its potential regulatory role in repressing SAA1 expression, and that many other liver gene promoters also contain this repressor binding site, we sought to investigate whether this repressor may have a broader functional role in repressing liver genes. We have utilized protein purification, cell culture, transient and stable gene transfection, and molecular biology approaches to identify this protein and investigate its possible function in the regulation of (SAA1) and other liver genes. Analyses of amino acid sequence of the purified nuclear protein, and western blot and gel shift studies identified the repressor as transcription factor AP-2 or AP-2-like protein. Using transient transfection of DNA into cultured cells, we demonstrate that AP-2 can indeed function as a repressor to inhibit transcription of SAA1 gene promoter. This conclusion is supported by the following experimental results: (1) overexpression of AP-2 in hepatoma cells inhibits conditioned medium (CM)-induced expression of SAA1 promoter; (2) binding of AP-2 to the SAA1 promoter is required for AP-2 repression function; (3) one mechanism by which AP-2 inhibits SAA1 may be by antagonizing the activation function of the strong transactivator NFκB; (4) mutation of AP-2 binding sites results in derepression of SAM promoter in HeLa cells; and (5) inhibition of endogenous AP-2 activity by a dominant-negative mutant abolishes AP-2's inhibitory effect on SAM promoter in HeLa cells. In addition to the SAM promoter, AP-2 also can bind to the promoter regions of six other liver genes tested, suggesting that it may have a broad functional role in restricting the expression of many liver genes in nonliver cells. Consistent with this notion, ectopic expression of AP-2 also represses CM-mediated activation of human third component of complement 3 promoter. Finally, in AP-2-expressing stable hepatoma cell lines, AP-2 inhibits not only the expression of endogenous SAA, but also the expression of several other endogenous liver genes including albumin, α-fetoprotein. Our findings that AP-2 has the ability to repress the expression of liver genes in nonliver cells opens a new avenue of investigation of negative regulation of gene transcription, and should improve our understanding of tissue-specific expression of liver genes. In summary, our data provide evidence suggesting a novel role of AP-2 as a repressor, inhibiting the expression of liver genes in nonliver cells. Thus, the tissue-specific expression of AP-2 may constitute an important mechanism contributing to the liver-specific expression of liver genes.

Subject Area

Molecular biology|Biomedical research

Recommended Citation

Ren, Yongsheng, "Transcriptional repression of serum amyloid A1 by AP-2 contributes to its liver-specific expression" (1999). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9942097.