Insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) is a locally synthesized anabolic growth factor for bone. IGF-I synthesis by primary fetal rat osteoblasts (Ob) is stimulated by agents that increase the intracellular cAMP concentration, including prostaglandin E2 (PGE2). Previous studies with Ob cultures demonstrated that PGE2 enhanced IGF-I transcription through selective use of IGF-I promoter 1, with little effect on IGF-I messenger RNA half-life. Transient transfection of Ob cultures with an array of promoter 1-luciferase reporter fusion constructs has now allowed localization of a potential cis-acting promoter element(s) responsible for cAMP-stimulated gene expression to the 5′-untranslated region (5′-UTR) of IGF-I exon 1, within a segment lacking a consensus cAMP response element. Our evidence derives from three principal observations: 1) a transfection construct containing only 122 nucleotides (nt) of promoter 1 and 328 nt of the 5′-UTR retained full PGE2-stimulated reporter expression; 2) maximal PGE2-driven reporter expression required the presence of nt 196 to 328 of exon 1 when tested within the context of IGF-I promoter 1; 3) cotransfection of IGF-I promoter-luciferase-reporter constructs with a plasmid encoding the alpha-isoform of the catalytic subunit of murine cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA) produced results comparable to those seen with PGE2 treatment, whereas cotransfection with a plasmid encoding a mutant regulatory subunit of PKA that cannot bind cAMP blocked PGE2-induced reporter expression. Deoxyribonuclease I footprinting of the 5′-UTR of exon 1 demonstrated protected sequences at HS3A, HS3B, and HS3D, three of six DNA-protein binding sites previously characterized with rat liver nuclear extracts. Of these three regions, only the HS3D binding site is located within the functionally identified hormonally responsive segment of IGF-I exon 1. These results directly implicate PKA in the control of IGF-I gene transcription by PGE2 and identify a segment of IGF-I exon 1 as being essential for this hormonal regulation.
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