Locus control regions (LCRs) are defined by their ability to confer reproducible physiological levels of transgene expression in mice and therefore thought to possess the ability to generate dominantly a transcriptionally active chromatin structure. We report the first characterization of a muscle-cell-specific LCR, which is linked to the human desmin gene (DES). The DES LCR consists of five regions of muscle-specific DNase I hypersensitivity (HS) localized between -9 and -18 kb 5′ of DES and reproducibly drives full physiological levels of expression in all muscle cell types. The DES LCR DNase I HS regions are highly conserved between humans and other mammals and can potentially bind a broad range of muscle-specific and ubiquitous transcription factors. Bioinformatics and direct molecular analysis show that the DES locus consists of three muscle-specific (DES) or muscle preferentially expressed genes (APEG1 and SPEG, the human orthologue of murine striated-muscle-specific serine/threonine protein kinase, Speg). The DES LCR may therefore regulate expression of SPEG and APEG1 as well as DES.

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Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

Tam, J., Triantaphyllopoulos, K., Todd, H., Raguz, S., de Wit, T., Morgan, J., … Antoniou, M. (2006). The human desmin locus: Gene organization and LCR-mediated transcriptional control. Genomics, 87(6), 733–746. doi:10.1016/j.ygeno.2006.01.009