mStaf is a zinc-finger protein that activates the transcription of the mouse selenocysteine tRNA gene. The mStaf gene is approx. 35 kb long and split into 16 exons. All exon-intron junction sequences conform to the GT/AG rule. The transcription start site is located 83 bp upstream of the initiation codon. Chromosomal mapping localized the gene to mouse chromosome 7, region E3-F1. Sequence analysis of the proximal promoter region revealed several potential regulatory elements; these include the recognition elements of Sp1, Nkx, CP2, E2A, SIF (SIS-inducible factor), TFII-I and cAMP-responsive element (CRE), but no TATA sequences. Transfection experiments demonstrated that the 5ʹ-flanking region (-1894 to +37) of the mStaf gene drives transcription in mouse NMuMG cells and that a construct containing a fragment from -387 to +37 showed the highest transcriptional activity. Deletion and mutation experiments suggested that four Sp1 sites played an important role for the basal promoter activity. Furthermore, electrophoretic mobility-shift assays demonstrated that Sp3 but not other Sp (specificity protein) family members binds to three of the Sp1 sites. Our present study suggests that Sp3 is involved in the basal transcriptional activation of the mStaf gene.

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