Arylamine N-acetyltransferases (NATs) are polymorphic enzymes, well-known for their role in the metabolism of drugs and carcinogens. Mice have three NAT isoenzymes, of which NAT2 is postulated to be involved in endogenous, as well as xenobiotic, metabolism. To understand expression of the murine Nat2 gene, we have analysed its structure and transcriptional regulation. We have accurately mapped the transcription initiation site 6.5 kb upstream of the coding region of the gene, adjacent to a recently described non-coding exon. Transcription was demonstrated to start from this region in embryonic and adult liver, spleen, submaxillary gland, kidney, brain, thymus, lung and placenta, but not in the heart. Database searches and analyses of cDNA by PCR suggested alternative splicing of the single 6.2 kb intron of Nat2, and determined the position of the polyadenylation signal at 0.44 kb downstream of the coding region of the gene. Examination of the 13 kb sequence flanking the coding and non-coding exons of Nat2 revealed a single promoter, located close to the transcription-initiation site, and indicated regions likely to harbour control elements. The Nat2 promoter consists of an atypical TATA box and a Sp1 [SV40 (simian virus 40) protein 1] box identical with that found in many housekeeping gene promoters. Activity of the Nat2 promoter was severely reduced by deletion or mutation of either of these two elements, whereas the region of the Sp1 box bound cellular protein and resisted DNase I digestion. Finally, the ability of the promoter region to bind cellular protein was reduced by competition with oligonucleotides bearing the Sp1 consensus sequence.

Abbreviations used: AP1, activation protein 1; CREB, cAMP-response-element-binding protein; Dhfr, dihydrofolate reductase; DTT, dithiothreitol; EMSA, electrophoretic mobility-shift assay; ES cells, embryonic stem cells; EST, expressed sequence tag; Hprt, hypoxanthine phosphoribosyltransferase; NAT, arylamine N-acetyltransferase; pABA, p-aminobenzoic acid; pABGlu, para-aminobenzoylglutamate; RT-PCR, reverse transcription-PCR; Sp1, SV40 protein 1; SV40, simian virus 40; VAI, virus-associated RNA I.

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