An ultra-conserved sequence in the bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP2) 3′ untranslated region (UTR) markedly represses BMP2 expression in non-transformed lung cells. In contrast, the ultra-conserved sequence stimulates BMP2 expression in transformed lung cells. The ultra-conserved sequence functions as a post-transcriptional cis-regulatory switch. A common single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP, rs15705, +A1123C), which has been shown to influence human morphology, disrupts a conserved element within the ultra-conserved sequence and altered reporter gene activity in non-transformed lung cells. This polymorphism changed the affinity of the BMP2 RNA for several proteins including nucleolin, which has an increased affinity for the C allele. Elevated BMP2 synthesis is associated with increased malignancy in mouse models of lung cancer and poor lung cancer patient prognosis. Understanding the cis- and trans-regulatory factors that control BMP2 synthesis is relevant to the initiation or progression of pathologies associated with abnormal BMP2 levels. J. Cell. Biochem. 110: 509–521, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
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