The third component of complement (C3) is an important mediator of inflammation. Murine and human genomic cosmid clones were isolated, characterized and sequenced 5′ to the complement C3 gene transcriptional initiation sites to determine cis elements that participate in constitutive and regulated C3 gene expression. The murine and human 5′ flanking regions are 51% identical overall, with positions -36 to -1 and -146 to -68 showing 80% identity. Four TATA boxes were identified upstream of the murine transcriptional initiation site, but deletion and transfection analysis using reporter gene constructs in HepG2 cells indicated that only the TATA element at position -30, together with sequences -395 to -111, are essential for constitutive expression of murine C3 in hepatocytes. Deletion analysis also suggested that sequences between -1457 and -800 contain regulatory elements that are involved in suppressing basal expression. Sequences between -90 to -41 confer both enhancer activity and interleukin-1/-6 (IL-1/IL-6)-responsiveness. Mutation analyses showed that both sequences between -88 and -83 and -77 to -72 are essential for enhancer activity and responsiveness to IL-1, but only sequences between -88 and -83 are necessary for IL-6-responsiveness. A gel-retardation assay showed that several nucleoproteins, perhaps of the C/EBP family, from HepG2 cells bound to sequences between -88 to -83. Collectively, these results localize cis-acting elements involved in constitutive and IL-1/IL-6-regulated murine C3 gene expression and provide evidence for specific transacting factors.

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