The rat glutathione S-transferase-A3-subunit (GSTA3) gene is a member of the class Alpha GSTs, which we have previously reported to be overexpressed in anti-cancer-drug-resistant cells. In this study, we report the isolation and characterization of the entire rat GSTA3 (rGST Yc1) subunit gene. The rat GSTA3 subunit gene is approximately 15 kb in length and consists of seven exons interrupted by introns of different lengths. Exon 1, with a length of 219 bp, contains only the 5ʹ-untranslated region of the gene. Each exon-intron splicing junction exhibited the consensus sequence for a mammalian splice site. The transcription start site and exon 1 of rat GSTA3 were characterized by a combination of primer extension and rapid amplification of the cDNA ends. Position +1 was identified 219 bp upstream of the first exon-intron splicing junction. The proximal promoter region of the rat GSTA3 subunit gene does not contain typical TATA or CAAT boxes. A computer-based search for potential transcription-factor binding sites revealed the existence of a number of motifs such as anti-oxidant-responsive element, ras-response element, activator protein-1, nuclear factor-κB, cAMP-response-element-binding protein, Barbie box and E box. The functional activity of the regulatory region of the rat GSTA3 subunit gene was shown by its ability to drive the expression of a chloramphenicol acetyltransferase reporter gene in rat mammary carcinoma cells, and its activity was greater in melphalan-resistant cells known to have transcriptional activation of this gene by previous studies. The structure of the gene, with a large intron upstream of the translation-initiation site, may explain why the isolation of this promoter has been so elusive. This information will provide the opportunity to examine the involvement of the rat GSTA3 subunit gene in drug resistance and carcinogenesis.

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