Chromogranin A (CgA) is an acidic glycoprotein, which is widely expressed in endocrine and neuroendocrine cells. It plays multiple important roles in the process of regulated hormone secretion. The single copy human CgA gene was isolated from a human fetal liver gene library. The gene spans 15 kilobases and contains 8 exons. Exon I encodes the 5'-noncoding region and the majority of the signal peptide coding region. Exons II-V collectively encode the highly conserved amino-terminal domain (the beta-granin sequence). Exon VI encodes a variable domain within which is the chromostatin sequence, and exon VII encodes another variable domain, which contains the pancreastatin sequence. Exon VIII encodes the highly conserved carboxyl-terminal domain and the 3'-noncoding region. The human gene promoter has a consensus TATA box, cAMP response element, and Sp-I sequence. 2.3 kilobases of the upstream regulatory region of the human CgA gene directed efficient transcription of a reporter chloramphenicol acetyltransferase gene in several neuroendocrine cell lines, including human medullary thyroid C-cell tumor, mouse pituitary corticotroph, rat pituitary tumor, and rat pheochromocytoma. The promoter was virtually inactive in nonneuroendocrine cell lines. Transient transfection studies with deleted promoter constructs showed that sequences lying between -55 and +32 base pairs relative to the transcription initiation site, containing the consensus cyclic AMP response element and TATA box, were sufficient for neuroendocrine cell-specific expression.