Mouse leukaemia inhibitory factor (LIF) is a polyfunctional cytokine which exhibits multiple functions in vitro and in vivo. Two forms of LIF cDNA, differing at their 5′ ends, have been described encoding either diffusible (D-LIF) or matrix-associated (M-LIF) forms of the protein [Rathjen, Toth, Willis, Heath and Smith (1990) (Cell 62, 1105-1114]. The present report describes the DNA sequence and functional characterization of the murine LIF gene and its surrounding transcriptional regulatory elements. Transient transfection of constructs containing the LIF gene and various amounts of 5′-non-coding sequence failed to give detectable levels of expression, suggesting the presence of inhibitory sequences within the LIF gene. Stable cell lines were produced by transfection of experimental constructs containing various lengths of 5′-non-coding sequence of the LIF gene, or the heterologous phosphoglycerate kinase promoter, linked to an LIF/neomycin-resistance-hybrid-coding sequence. The frequency of recovery of stable clones indicated that sequences located in the first intron between the transcriptional start sites for D-LIF and M-LIF act to suppress expression of the gene in most genomic locations. This region is rich in GC residues and has been shown to be hypomethylated in vitro [Kaspar, Dvorak and Bartunek (1993) FEBS Lett. 319, 159-162]. Analysis of the LIF/neomycin-resistance transgene expression in these stable cell clones demonstrated that transcripts containing the M-LIF or D-LIF exons required the presence of sequences located between -1200 and -3200 in the LIF gene. In the absence of these sequences, transcription is initiated elsewhere within the first intron. These sequences can be replaced by the heterologous phosphoglycerate kinase promoter. Deletion of the GC-rich region between the D-LIF and M-LIF transcriptional start sites results in the appearance of transcripts that do not splice out the first intron of the LIF gene. These may result from gene or promoter trapping of the LIF gene. Sequence analysis of the region between -1200 and -3200 revealed a number of minimal steroid-response elements, regions of similarity to DNAase I-hypersensitive sites in the uteroglobin gene and a region of alternating purine/pyrimidine sequence. This study therefore defines two important regulatory regions in the LIF gene: a GC-rich region in the first intron and a distal ‘enhancer’ located between -3200 and -1200.
- © 1994 The Biochemical Society, London