The mouse adrenocorticotropin receptor gene: cloning and characterization of its promoter and evidence for a role for the orphan nuclear receptor steroidogenic factor 1

Mol Endocrinol. 1997 Jun;11(7):867-76. doi: 10.1210/mend.11.7.9938.


To elucidate the mechanism underlying the tissue-specific expression of the ACTH receptor/MC2 receptor (ACTH-R) in the adrenal cortex, we have cloned the mouse ACTH-R promoter. The analysis of the cDNA 5'-end showed an untranslated region of 321 bp, and the ACTH-R gene was demonstrated to be composed of two exons of 113 and 112 bp lying upstream of the single coding exon. S1 nuclease protection assay showed two major transcription start sites separated by 4 bp; 1.8 kb of the 5'-flanking region inserted in a luciferase reporter vector had cell-specific promoter activity because it was functional only in mouse adrenocortical Y1 cells but not in mouse Leydig TM3 cells or fibroblast L cells. There was no dramatic change in the promoter activity in Y1 cells for all the deletions tested up to -113 bp upstream of the transcription start site. In contrast, expression in TM3 cells was switched on from deletion -908 bp, while remaining undetectable in L cells. Site-directed mutagenesis of a steroidogenic factor 1 (SF1)-like site at position -25 bp resulted in a significant reduction in luciferase expression by the promoter in Y1 cells. Gel shift analysis of this site indicated specific binding of a protein in extracts of Y1 and TM3 cells. Moreover, expression of SF1 in L cells induced promoter activity of the construct p(908). In conclusion, cell-specific expression of the mouse ACTH-R appears to be controlled by at least two factors. One of them, most probably SF1, is responsible for steroidogenic cell-specific expression. The other as yet unknown factor binding between position -1236 bp and -908 bp acts as a strong inhibitory factor in nonadrenal steroidogenic cells, resulting in the adrenal-specific expression of ACTH-R.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Blotting, Southern
  • Cell Line
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • DNA, Complementary / chemistry
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • Exons / genetics
  • Fushi Tarazu Transcription Factors
  • Gene Expression
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • L Cells
  • Mice
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics*
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Receptors, Corticotropin / genetics*
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • Steroidogenic Factor 1
  • Transcription Factors / physiology*
  • Zinc Fingers / physiology*


  • DNA, Complementary
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Fushi Tarazu Transcription Factors
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Corticotropin
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • Steroidogenic Factor 1
  • Transcription Factors
  • steroidogenic factor 1, mouse