Initial expression of the neurofilament light gene coincides with the appearance of postmitotic neurons. To investigate the molecular mechanisms involved in neuron-specific gene expression during embryogenesis, we generated transgenic mice carrying various regions of the human neurofilament light gene (hNF-L) fused to the lacZ reporter gene. We found that 2.3 or 0.3 kb of the hNF-L promoter region directs expression of lacZ in neurons of transgenic embryos. Addition of 1.8 kb hNF-L intragenic sequences (IS) enlarges the neuronal pattern of transgene expression. The 2.3-kb hNF-L promote lacZ-IS construct contains all regulatory elements essential for both spatial and temporal expression of the hNF-L gene during embryogenesis and in the adult. The use of a heterologous promoter demonstrated that the 1.8-kb hNF-L intragenic sequences are sufficient to direct the expression of lacZ in a NF-L-specific manner both temporally and spatially during development and in the adult. We conclude that these hNF-L intragenic sequences contain cis-acting DNA regulatory elements that specify neuronal expression. Taken together, these results show that the neurofilament light gene contains separate upstream and intragenic elements, each of which directs lacZ expression in embryonic neurons.
- developmental gene regulation
- intragenic sequences
- lacZ reporter
- neuron-specific expression
- transgenic mice
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience