Microsomal epoxide hydrolase (mEH, EPHX1) is a critical biotransformation enzyme, catalyzing the metabolism of many xenobiotics. Human mEH is transcribed using alternative promoters. The upstream E1 promoter is active in liver while the far upstream E1b promoter drives the expression of mEH in all tissues, including liver. Although several liver-specific transcription factors have been identified in the regulation of E1 transcription, little is known regarding the mechanisms of E1b transcriptional regulation. Genome-wide mapping of DNase I hypersensitive sites revealed an open chromatin region between nucleotide - 300 upstream and +. 400 downstream of E1b. This area coincides with a previously described promoter region responsible for maintaining high basal promoter activity. In silico analysis of this location revealed several Sp1/Sp3 binding sites. Site-directed mutagenesis of these motifs suppressed the transactivation activity of the E1b proximal promoter, indicating their importance as contributors to E1b promoter regulation. Further, E1b promoter activities were increased significantly following Sp1 and Sp3 overexpression, while Mithramycin A, a selective Sp1 inhibitor, reduced the promoter activities. EMSA studies demonstrated that Sp1 bound to two putative Sp1/Sp3 binding sites. ChIP analysis confirmed that both endogenous Sp1 and Sp3 were bound to the proximal promoter region of E1b. Knockdown of Sp1 expression using siRNA did not alter the endogenous E1b transcriptional level, while knockdown of Sp3 greatly decreased E1b expression in different human cell lines. Taken together, these results support the concept that Sp1 and Sp3 are functionally involved as transcriptional integrators regulating the basal expression of the derived mEH E1b variant transcript.
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