The gene encoding tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases-3 (TIMP-3) is regulated during development, mitogenic stimulation and normal cell cycle progression. The TIMP-3 gene is structurally altered or deregulated in certain diseases of the eye and in tumour cells. A detailed knowledge of the TIMP-3 gene and its regulatory elements is therefore of paramount importance to understand its role in development, cell cycle progression and disease. In this study, we present the complete structure of the human TIMP-3 gene. We show that TIMP-3 is a TATA-less gene, which initiates transcription at one major site, is composed of five exons and four introns spanning a region of approximately 30 kb, and gives rise to three distinct mRNAs, presumably due to the usage of alternative polyadenylation signals. Using somatic cell hybrids the TIMP-3 locus was mapped to chromosomal location 22q13.1 We also show that the TIMP-3 5′ flanking region is sufficient to confer both high basal level expression in growing cells and cell cycle regulation in serum-stimulated cells. While the first 112 bases of the promoter, which harbour multiple Sp1 sites, were found to suffice for high basal level activity, the adjacent region spanning positions -463 and -112 was found to be a major determinant of serum inducibility. These results provide an important basis for further investigations addressing the role of TIMP-3 in physiological processes and pathological conditions.

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