The mammalian aldehyde dehydrogenase-3 gene (ALDH3) exhibits several aspects of tissue-specific expression. Certain normal tissues, such as the cornea, constitutively express ALDH3 at very high levels. Other tissues, such as normal liver, do not express ALDH3. In liver, ALDH3 is inducible by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon xenobiotics by an Ah-receptor (AhR)-mediated pathway in which a liganded AhR complexes with nuclear ARNT protein, and the complex binds to a xenobiotic response element (XRE) sequence located near - 3.0 kb in the ALDH3 5' flanking region and initiates transcription. We used our recently developed rat corneal epithelium culture model (Boesch et al., J. Biol. Chem. 271, 5150-5157, 1996) to study the molecular basis of constitutive ALDH3 expression. Transient transfection assays of corneal epithelium using a battery of ALDH3 5' flanking region-CAT reporter gene constructs indicate that high constitutive ALDH3 expression involves the same cis-acting elements as xenobiotic-induced ALDH3 expression in liver. These elements include a strong basal promoter region and the XRE located near -3.0 kb. Western analysis confirms the presence of AhR and ARNT proteins in 3- methylcholanthrene-treated rat liver, as well as ARNT protein in rat corneal epithelium. No AhR protein is found in rat cornea. The -3.0-kb ALDH3 XRE region contains multiple overlapping transcription factor binding sequences, including consensus sites for AhR, ARNT, HNF1, HNF4, and C/ebp. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays (EMSAs) indicate that constitutive expression of ALDH3 in cornea involves binding of ARNT, HNF1, and HNF4 to the ALDH3-XRE in an Ah-receptor-independent, ARNT-requiring manner. Transient transfection of ALDH3- CAT reporter gene constructs possessing a mutation in either the ARNT- or HNF4-DNA binding sites of the XRE confirms the functional importance of these sequence motifs in constitutive ALDH3 expression.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology