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Keywords:

  • Tryptophan hydroxylase;
  • Serotonin;
  • Transcription;
  • CCAAT displacement protein;
  • CDP/Cut

Abstract : Tryptophan hydroxylase (TPH) is the rate-limiting enzyme in the biosynthesis of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that has been implicated in many psychiatric illnesses. The mechanism of transcriptional regulation of the human TPH gene is largely unknown. We have identified a negative regulatory element located between nucleotides -310 and -220 in the human TPH (hTPH) gene. Electromobility shift analyses performed with the -310/-220 hTPH probe and nuclear extract from P815-HTR (a TPH-expressing cell line) revealed two slow migrating protein-DNA complexes, designated I and II. CCAAT displacement protein (CDP/Cut) is involved in complex I formation as shown in electromobility shift analysis, using consensus oligonucleotide competitor and antibody. Mutations in the CDP/Cut binding site not only disrupted the CDP-DNA complex but also disrupted the second complex, suggesting that the core binding sequences of the two proteins are overlapping. The functional importance of these protein-DNA interactions was assessed by transiently transfecting wild-type and mutant pTPH/luciferase reporter constructs into P815-HTR cells. Mutations in the core CDP/Cut site resulted in an approximately fourfold increase in relative luciferase activities. Because CDP/Cut has been shown to repress transcription of many target genes, we speculate that disruption of the CDP/Cut binding was responsible, at least in part, for the activation of hTPH gene.