The mammalian Cytochrome P450 (Cyp) gene superfamily encodes enzymes involved in numerous metabolic pathways and are frequently expressed in the liver. Despite the remarkably high sequence similarity of Cyp2a4 and Cyp2a5 genes and their surrounding genomic regions, they exhibit differences in expression in the adult mouse liver. For example, Cyp2a4 is highly female-biased whereas Cyp2a5 is only moderately female-biased and Cyp2a4, but not Cyp2a5, is activated in liver cancer. We hypothesized that the limited sequence differences may help us identify the basis for this differential expression. An antisense expressed sequence tag had been uniquely annotated to the Cyp2a4 gene which led us to investigate this transcript as a possible regulator of this gene. We characterized the full-length antisense transcript and also discovered a similar transcript in the Cyp2a5 gene. These transcripts are nuclear long noncoding RNAs that are expressed similarly to their sense mRNA counterparts. This includes the sex-biased and liver tumor differences seen between the Cyp2a4 and Cyp2a5 genes, but we also find that these two genes and their antisense transcripts are expressed within different zones of the liver structure. Interestingly, while the differences in sex-biased expression of the mRNAs are established 1-2 months after birth, the antisense transcripts exhibit these expression differences earlier, at 3-4 weeks after birth. By analyzing published genomic data, we have identified candidate transcription factor binding sites that could account for differences in Cyp2a4/Cyp2a5 expression. Taken together, these studies characterize the first antisense RNAs within the Cyp supergene family and identify potential transcriptional and post-transcriptional mechanisms governing different Cyp2a4 and Cyp2a5 expression patterns in mouse liver.
Keywords: Cytochrome p450; Gene duplication; Natural antisense RNA; Sex-biased expression; lncRNA.
Copyright © 2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.