To evaluate the functional role of GATA motifs in the 5'-flanking region of a kidney-specific AQP-2 water channel gene, we sought to isolate a GATA factor(s) expressed in collecting ducts and determined the role on the AQP-2 promoter. Two cDNAs encoding GATA factors were isolated from rat kidney, whose sequences were highly homologous with human GATA-2 and -3. Reverse-transcription PCR using dissected nephron segments revealed that rat GATA-3 but not GATA-2 was expressed in collecting ducts, thus indicating that GATA-3 could interact with GATA motifs in the AQP-2 promoter. Transactivation experiments utilizing the rat GATA-3 expression vector indicated that rat GATA-3 increased the AQP-2 promoter activity about fourfold. These results indicated that GATA motifs in the 5'-flanking region of the hAQP-2 gene were functional cis-elements and that GATA-3 in collecting ducts may be one of the important regulators of AQP-2 expression in vivo.