Pannexins (PANXs) are channel-forming proteins implicated in cellular communication through the secretion of biomolecules, such as ATP and glutamate. PANX1 and PANX3 are expressed in the male rat reproductive tract and their levels are regulated by androgens in the epididymis. There is currently no information on the regulation of the Panx1 promoter. The objective of the present study was to characterize the Panx1 promoter in order to understand its regulation in the epididymis. RNA ligase-mediated rapid amplification of cDNA ends identified three transcriptional start sites, at positions −443, −429, and −393. In silico analysis revealed that transcription was initiated downstream of binding sites for CREB and ETV4 transcription factors, in a CpG island context. To determine the importance of this region in gene transactivation, a 2-kb fragment of the promoter was cloned into a vector containing a luciferase reporter gene. Deletion constructs indicated that the highest transactivation levels were achieved with shorter constructs (−973 to −346 and −550 to −346). Electrophoretic mobility shift assay and supershifts indicated that both transcription factors were able to bind to the promoter region. Chromatin immunoprecipitation using rat caput epididymis cells confirmed the binding of ETV4 and CREB on the Panx1 promoter. Site mutation of either the ETV4 or CREB binding site decreased the transactivation of the reporter gene. Previous studies indicated that orchidectomy increased epididymal PANX1 levels. Likewise, we observed an increase in both ETV4 and CREB in orchidectomized rats. These results indicate that ETV4 and cAMP response elements play a role in the transcriptional regulation of Panx1 in the epididymis.
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Vol. 91 • No. 6