• Ornithine carbamoyltransferase;
  • OTC deficiency;
  • promoter;
  • enhancer;
  • expression;
  • dual luciferase reporter assay


In a female patient with signs of ornithine carbamoyltransferase deficiency (OTCD), the only variation found was a heterozygous single nucleotide substitution c.-366A>G. Determination of transcription start sites of human OTC 95, 119 and 169 bp upstream of the initiation codon located the variation upstream of the 5'-untranslated region. We predicted the human promoter and enhancer elements from homology with rat and mouse, performed function analysis of both regulatory regions and assessed the impact of the promoter variation in functional studies using dual luciferase reporter assay. Our data indicate that: (i) Full transcriptional activity of human OTC promoter depends on an upstream enhancer, as do the rodent promoters. (ii) The promoter variation c.-366A>G does not affect the function of the promoter alone but it disrupts the interaction of the promoter with the enhancer. (iii) The promoter – enhancer interaction contribute to tissue specific expression of OTC in the liver. We conclude that mutations in the regulatory regions of OTC can lead to OTCD and should be included in genetic testing. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.