Human chorionic somatomammotropin (hCS) is encoded by two highly related genes, hCS-A and hCS-B, located in the hGH/hCS gene locus. Both genes are expressed in the syncytiotrophoblast layer of the placenta and hCS release from trophoblast cells is known to be increased by cAMP and phorbol esters. However, it remains unclear whether this regulation acts at the level of hCS gene expression or secretion and whether both genes are affected. We examined the effects of cAMP and phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) on the transcription of the hCS-A and hCS-B genes. Transient expression experiments revealed a 7 bp cAMP- and PMA-responsive element (CRElhCS-A) spanning nucleotides −1102 to −1096 upstream of the hCS-A gene. In contrast, the homologous sequence upstream of hCS-B (CRElhCS-B), differing from CRElhCS-A by a single substitution, shows little or no response to cAMP. In band-shift assays, the CRElhCS-A oligonucleotide was shown to bind two factors related to CREBP and AP-1, whereas CRElhCS-B only competes for one of these complexes. Finally, Southwestern analysis revealed that the CRElhCS-A element binds two ubiquitous proteins of 100 kDa and 47 kDa respectively, whereas CRElhCS-B interacts only with the 47 kDa protein. Taken together, these results suggest that a 47 kDa protein binding to the CRElhCS-A and CRElhCS-B elements is involved in the PMA response of the hCS-A and hCS-B genes, and a 100 kDa protein plays a crucial role in cAMP regulation of the hCS-A gene.
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