A small composite probasin promoter confers high levels of prostate-specific gene expression through regulation by androgens and glucocorticoids in vitro and in vivo

Endocrinology. 2000 Dec;141(12):4698-710. doi: 10.1210/endo.141.12.7837.


Transient transfection studies have shown that the probasin (PB) promoter confers androgen selectivity over other steroid hormones, and transgenic animal studies have demonstrated that the PB promoter will target androgen, but not glucocorticoid, regulation in a prostate-specific manner. Previous PB promoters either targeted low levels of transgene expression or became too large to be conveniently used. The goal was to design a PB promoter that would be small, yet target high levels of prostate-specific transgene expression. Thus, a composite probasin promoter (ARR2PB) coupled to the bacterial chloramphenicol acetyltransferase reporter (ARR2PBCAT) was generated and tested in prostatic and nonprostatic cell lines and in a transgenic mouse model. In PC-3, LNCaP, and DU145 prostate cancer cell lines, the ARR2PB promoter gave basal expression and was induced in response to androgen and glucocorticoid treatment after cotransfection with the respective steroid receptor. Basal expression of ARR2PBCAT in the nonprostatic COS-1, MCF-7, ZR-75-1, and PANC-1 cell lines was very low; however, CAT activity could be induced in response to androgens and glucocorticoids when cells were cotransfected with either the AR or GR. In contrast to the transfection studies, ARR2PBCAT transgene expression remained highly specific for prostatic epithelium in transgenic mice. CAT activity decreased after castration, and could be induced by androgens and, in addition, glucocorticoids. This demonstrates that the necessary sequences required to target prostate-specific epithelial expression are contained within the composite ARR2PB minimal promoter, and that high transgene expression can now be regulated by both androgens and glucocorticoids. The ARR2PB promoter represents a novel glucocorticoid inducible promoter that can be used for the generation of transgenic mouse models and in viral gene therapy vectors for the treatment of prostate cancer in humans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Androgen-Binding Protein / genetics*
  • Androgens / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Breast Neoplasms
  • COS Cells
  • Chloramphenicol O-Acetyltransferase / genetics
  • Epithelium / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects*
  • Glucocorticoids / pharmacology*
  • Haplorhini
  • Humans
  • Kidney
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic*
  • Prostate / metabolism*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms
  • Receptors, Androgen / metabolism*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Androgen-Binding Protein
  • Androgens
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Receptors, Androgen
  • probasin
  • Chloramphenicol O-Acetyltransferase