Neural-restrictive silencer (NRS) has been identified in at least twenty neuron-specific genes, and its nuclear DNA-binding factor, NRSF (also known as RE1-silencing transcription factor (REST)), has been cloned from human and rat, and was shown to repress transcription by recruiting corepressors mSin3 and/or CoREST via its N- and C-terminal domains, leading to chromatin reorganization by mSin3-associated histone deacetylase, HDAC. However, it is largely unknown how NRSF gene expression is regulated. To elucidate the mechanisms for gene expression of NRSF, we isolated the transcriptional unit of the NRSF gene from mouse and human, identified three 5'-non-coding exons in addition to three coding exons, determined transcription start sites, and identified two basal promoter activities in the upstream of the first two non-coding exons. Both promoters functioned equally in neuronal and non-neuronal cells, suggesting that levels of initial transcripts of NRSF gene are similar in neuronal and non-neuronal cells. These results suggest that the level of NRSF gene expression is not determined by transcription per se, and rather is modulated at the post-transcriptional level, e.g. splicing, mRNA stability, and/or post-translational modifications, in a cell-specific manner. Consistent with this idea, NRSF protein was apparently present even in neuronal cells and tissues, but was unable to bind to the NRS element, suggesting that NRSF is regulated at least in part post-translationally.