We have previously identified a C2H2 zinc-finger transcription factor [BTEB3 (basal transcription element-binding protein 3)/KLF13 (Krüppel-like factor 13)] that activates the minimal promoter for the smooth muscle-specific SM22α gene in other types of cell. We show that recombinant BTEB3 binds to three TGGG motifs in the minimal SM22α promoter. By mutation analysis, only one of these boxes is required for BTEB3-dependent promoter activation in P19 cells and BTEB3 activates or inhibits reporter gene expression depending on the TGGG box to which it binds. Transient transfection experiments show that BTEB3 also activates reporter gene expression from the SM22α promoter in VSMCs (vascular smooth muscle cells). Similar studies showed that BTEB3 did not activate expression from the promoter regions of the smooth muscle myosin heavy chain or smooth muscle α-actin promoters, which contain similar sequences, implying that promoter activation by BTEB3 is selective. The expression of BTEB3 is readily detectable in VSMCs in vitro and is modulated in response to injury in vivo.

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