Research communication

A 211-bp enhancer of the rat uncoupling protein-1 (UCP-1) gene controls specific and regulated expression in brown adipose tissue



The uncoupling protein-1 gene is uniquely expressed in brown adipose tissue (BAT) and is positively regulated by cold exposure of animals and the sympathetic nervous system. To analyse the importance of a previously identified 211-bp enhancer [Cassard-Doulcier, Gelly, Fox, Schrementi, Raimbault, Klaus, Forest, Bouillaud and Ricquier (1993) Mol. Endocrinol. 7, 497–506] in the tissue-specific expression of this gene, transgenic mice were generated using the chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT) gene as a reporter gene. One out of fourteen lines of the control transgenic mice bearing the Herpes simplex thymidine kinase (TK) promoter expressed weakly the CAT reporter gene in several tissues, whereas the other lines did not express CAT. Eight founders bearing the 211-bp enhancer-TK transgene were obtained. In six lines, no expression of CAT was detected. In one line, the expression of CAT was restricted to BAT. In another line, the expression of CAT was found in BAT and, to a lesser extent, in testis. Moreover, in these lines a marked and specific increase in the expression of the reporter gene in BAT was observed either after exposure of mice to the cold or by treating them with a β-adrenoceptor agonist drug. These results demonstrate that the 211-bp enhancer alone is sufficient to both direct and restrict expression to BAT. This enhancer also mediates the transcriptional response of the gene to β-adrenergic stimulation, although it does not contain conserved cAMP response element.