Members of the Forkhead box a (Foxa) transcription factor family are expressed in the liver, pancreatic islets and intestine and both Foxa1 and Foxa2 regulate proglucagon gene transcription. As Foxa proteins exhibit overlapping DNA-binding specificities, we examined the role of Foxa3 [hepatocyte nuclear factor (HNF)-3γ] in control of proglucagon gene expression. Foxa3 was detected by reverse transcriptase PCR in glucagon-producing cell lines and binds to the rat proglucagon gene G2 promoter element in GLUTag enteroendocrine cells. Although Foxa3 increased rat proglucagon promoter activity in BHK fibroblasts, augmentation of Foxa3 expression did not increase proglucagon promoter activity in GLUTag cells. Furthermore, adenoviral Foxa3 expression did not affect endogenous proglucagon gene expression in islet or intestinal endocrine cell lines. Although Foxa3-/- mice exhibit mild hypoglycaemia during a prolonged fast, the levels of proglucagon-derived peptides and proglucagon mRNA transcripts were comparable in tissues from wild-type and Foxa3-/- mice. These findings identify Foxa3 as a member of the proglucagon gene G2 element binding-protein family that, unlike Foxa1, is not essential for control of islet or intestinal proglucagon gene expression in vivo.

Abbreviations used: EMSA, electrophoretic mobility-shift assay; Foxa, Forkhead box a; GLI, glucagon-like immunoreactivity; GLP, glucagon-like peptide; HNF, hepatocyte nuclear factor; RT-PCR, reverse transcriptase PCR.

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