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Unexpected Induction of the Human Connexin 43 Promoter by the Ras Signaling Pathway Is Mediated by a Novel Putative Promoter Sequence

Unexpected Induction of the Human Connexin 43 Promoter by the Ras Signaling Pathway Is Mediated by a Novel Putative Promoter Sequence


Abstract Connexin 43 (Cx43) is essential for survival and is tightly regulated at the transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels. A number of previous studies have demonstrated altered expression in malignant tissues, and in the presence of carcinogenic factors. We examined the effect of protooncogenes of Cx43 expression, and found no effect on Cx43 promoter activity in cells transformed with Src or erbB2. On the other hand, we identified and characterized a novel sequence that mediates Cx43 promoter regulation in cell lines engineered to overexpress H-Ras. Compared with wild-type NIH3T3 cells, both Cx43 mRNA and protein levels are increased in NIH3T3-Ras cells. The H-Ras+ cells also have enhanced Cx43 promoter activation, which is inhibited by the MEK1 inhibitor 2′-amino-3′-methoxyflavone (PD98059), suggesting that Ras-mediated Cx43 overexpression is via the mitogen activated protein kinase kinase/extracellular signal-regulated pathway. Deletion analysis of the Cx43 promoter revealed a 200-bp region downstream of the Cx43 transcription start site as the minimal sequence essential for the Ras-mediated Cx43 up-regulation. Using this 200-base pair fragment in electrophoretic mobility shift assays, we identified one main protein complex that binds efficiently and is more abundant in nuclear extracts from NIH3T3-Ras and MCF7-Ras cells compared with their matched controls. This complex selectively recognizes a consensus sequence, AGTTCAATCA, located at positions +149 to +158 of the Cx43 promoter. Supershift assays identified the 90-kDa heat shock protein (HSP90) and c-Myc as constituents of this DNA-binding complex. Treatment of cells with the HSP90 inhibitor geldanamycin resulted in repression of the Cx43 promoter activity, and inhibits binding of the complex to the Cx43 promoter. Coimmunoprecipitation studies confirmed the interaction between endogenous HSP90 and c-Myc. This study provides evidence that the transcriptional up-regulation of Cx43 by Ras-Raf-MAPK is mediated via the interaction of a novel Cx43 promoter element with a protein complex that contains both HSP90 and c-Myc.
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