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The effect of a promoter polymorphism on the transcription of nitric oxide synthase 1 and its relevance to Parkinson's disease



Transcriptional changes of the enzyme nitric oxide synthase I (NOS1) are believed to play a role in the development of many diseases. The gene for NOS1 has 12 alternative first exons (1A–1L). The 1F exon is one of the most highly utilized first exons in the brain and has a polymorphism ((TG)mTA(TG)n) located in its promoter region. The polymorphism's length has been suggested to affect NOS1 transcription and play a role in Parkinson's disease (PD); however, the actual influence of the polymorphism on NOS1 transcription has not been studied. To better characterize the links of the polymorphism with PD, a genotyping study was done comparing polymorphism length among 170 PD patients and 150 age-matched controls. The pattern of changes between the two group's allele frequencies shows statistical significance (P = 0.0359). The smallest polymorphism sizes are more predominant among PD patients than controls. To study the effects of this polymorphism on NOS1 gene transcription, reporter gene constructs were made by cloning the NOS1 1F promoter with polymorphism lengths of either 42, 54, or 62 bp in front of the luciferase gene and transfecting them into HeLa or Sk-N-MC cells. NOS1-directed reporter gene constructs with the 62-bp polymorphism increased transcription of luciferase 2.2-fold in HeLa and 1.8-fold in Sk-N-MC cells compared with reporter gene constructs with the 42-bp polymorphism. These data suggest that if smaller polymorphism size contributes to the higher NOS1 levels in PD patients, an as yet unknown transcriptional mechanism is required. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.