Expression of UGT2B7 is driven by two mutually exclusive promoters and alternative splicing in human tissues: changes from prenatal life to adulthood and in kidney cancer

Pharmacogenet Genomics. 2013 Dec;23(12):684-96. doi: 10.1097/FPC.0000000000000008.


Objective: UDP-glucuronosyltransferase 2B7 (UGT2B7) plays a major detoxification role in commonly prescribed drugs and endogenous lipophilic molecules. Additional exons and multiple alternative splicing events (ASEs) at the UGT2B7 locus were recently discovered.

Materials and methods: Novel and classical ASEs were quantified in 27 human tissues, as well as in fetal and tumoral tissues. The activity of the alternative UGT2B7 promoters was studied in cell lines.

Results: UGT2B7 expression is driven by an alternate promoter 1a associated with transcripts containing exon 1b, which is located ∼44 kb upstream of the known promoter 1 associated with transcripts containing exon 1 required for enzyme activity. The exon 1 was expressed most abundantly in the liver and gastrointestinal tract, whereas exon 1b was expressed predominantly in other extrahepatic tissues. Experimental evidence indicated endogenous translation that yields alternative UGT2B7s derived from the use of exon 1b are enzymatically inactive. Alternate 5' ASE predominates in fetal tissues (kidney, lung) and kidney tumor samples compared with normal adult kidney. These changes further correlate with reduced glucuronidation in neoplastic kidneys. This differential expression pattern was further confirmed using four liver and kidney cell lines and was consistent with the differential usage of alternate promoters in hepatic (promoter 1) and kidney cells (1a).

Conclusion: UGT2B7 is characterized by two mutually exclusive exons 1, both flanked by a unique 5' promoter region. Data also indicated a switch toward functional enzyme upon maturation in the kidney and reversal of this process in neoplastic cells, considerably modifying the glucuronidation potential across human tissues and cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alternative Splicing*
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Exons
  • Fetus / metabolism*
  • Glucuronosyltransferase / genetics*
  • Glucuronosyltransferase / metabolism
  • Hep G2 Cells
  • Humans
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Kidney Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Kidney Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver Neoplasms / genetics
  • Organ Specificity
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic*
  • RNA Isoforms / metabolism*


  • RNA Isoforms
  • UGT2B7 protein, human
  • Glucuronosyltransferase