A 2.4 kb fragment of hCMV (Towne strain), containing the 5′ end of the major immediate-early gene, has been cloned, sequenced, and used to construct a series of mammalian cell expression plasmids. The effects of regulatory regions present on this fragment were assessed using human glycoproteins as reporter molecules. We compared secreted levels of Factor VIII, t-PA, and HIV-1 envelope glycoproteins in cells transfected with plasmids in which intron A of the immediate-early gene was present or absent. Secretion of several glycoproteins was significantly higher when cells were transfected with intron A-containing plasmids. Mutation of three basepairs in the strong nuclear factor 1 (NF1) binding site in intron A led to reduced transient expression levels, but not to the level observed in the absence of intron A. Reduced expression from NF1 mutant plasmids was roughly correlated with reduced binding in vitro of NF1 proteins to a synthetic oligonucleotide containing the mutation. The evidence indicates that sequences in intron A positively regulate expression from the hCMV immediate-early enhancer/promoter in transformed monkey kidney cells.
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