A new technique for selective identification and mapping of enhancers within long genomic sequences

Biotechniques. 2008 May;44(6):775-84. doi: 10.2144/000112732.


We report a new experimental method of direct selection, identification, and mapping of potential enhancer sequences within extended stretches of genomic DNA. The method allows simultaneous cloning of a quantity of sequences instead of tedious screening of the separate ones, thus providing a robust and high-throughput approach to the mapping of enhancers. The selection procedure is based on the ability of such sequences to activate a minimal promoter that drives expression of a selective gene. To this end a mixture of short DNA fragments derived from the segment of interest was cloned in a retroviral vector containing the neomycin phosphotransferase II gene under control of a cytomegalovirus (CMV) minimal promoter. The pool of retroviruses obtained was used to infect HeLa cells and then to select neomycin-resistant colonies containing constructs with enhancer-like sequences. The pool of the genomic fragments was rescued by PCR and cloned, forming a library of the potential enhancers. Fifteen enhancer-like fragments were selected from 1-Mb human genome locus, and enhancer activity of 13 of them was verified in a transient transfection reporter gene assay. The sequences selected were found to be predominantly located near 5' regions of genes or within gene introns.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Chromosome Mapping / methods*
  • Cloning, Molecular / methods*
  • Enhancer Elements, Genetic / genetics*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA / methods*