Role of α-fetoprotein regulatory elements in transcriptional activation in transient heterokaryons

B. T. Spear, S. M. Tilghman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


The requirements for activation of the mouse α-fetoprotcin (AFP) gene in transient heterokaryons were investigated. For this purpose, the 7-kilobases of DNA flanking the 5′ end of the AFP gene were linked to a mouse major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I structural gene. The fusion gene was stably integrated at different sites into mouse L-cells, which do not transcribe the AFP gene. Transient heterokaryon fusions demonstrated that the silent AFP-MHC gene and the endogenous AFP gene were activated by factors present in HepG2 cells, a liver-derived cell line, but not by those in HeLa cells. Activation was detected at the protein level in single heterokaryons by using monoclonal antibodies against the cell surface protein and at the mRNA level in populations of cells. The AFP promoter alone was sufficient for activation, whereas the enhancers required the cooperation of an active promoter. This tissue-specific hybrid gene activation could be used for DNA transfer strategies to identify genes which can activate AFP promoter elements in trans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5047-5054
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular and Cellular Biology
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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