The promoter of the GABA(A) receptor δ subunit gene was analyzed in transgenic mice and in cultured cells to study sequences involved in neuronal subtype-specific gene expression. A 6.4-kb genomic fragment faithfully directed neuron-specific transcription of a lacZ reporter gene in the central nervous system. The transgene expression pattern in the cerebral cortex, hippocampal formation, thalamus, and brainstem was consistent with the regional and neuronal subtype-specific expression of the endogenous δ subunit protein in both developing and mature brain. In the cerebellum, however, the transgene was ectopically expressed in Purkinje cells and silent in granule cells, where the endogenous δ subunit is abundantly expressed. These mice provide a useful tool for investigating activity-dependent regulation of GABA(A) receptor expression under physiological and pathological conditions. Transfection studies using primary cortical neurons and astroglial cells revealed that the δ subunit gene promoter was selectively active in neurons even when truncated to a 267-bp core fragment. In conclusion, the δ subunit gene promoter/upstream region contains the information for neuronal subtype-specific expression in the entire brain except in the cerebellum and is selectively active in primary cortical neurons in vitro.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience