Characterization of the genomic structure of the murine Spam1 gene and its promoter: evidence for transcriptional regulation by a cAMP-responsive element.

Research paper by Y Y Zheng, P A PA Martin-Deleon

Indexed on: 28 Jul '99Published on: 28 Jul '99Published in: Molecular Reproduction and Development


The Sperm Adhesion Molecule 1 (SPAM1), also known as PH-20, is a sperm membrane-bound protein that has been shown to have bifunctional roles in fertilization. It is encoded by a gene that is widely conserved in mammalian species, underscoring its importance in the fertilization process. Here we determined the genomic structure of the murine homologue, Spam1, using PCR analysis, and studied its transcriptional regulation. The gene covers approximately 10.5 kb of genomic DNA, is encoded by four exons, and the splice site consensus sequence is maintained in all intron-exon junctions, similar to that reported for the human homologue. With primer extension analysis, two transcription initiation sites were detected. One was assigned to the residue C and the other (a minor site) to the residue G, at positions 1 and -56, respectively. These are at 313 and 369 nucleotides upstream of the translation initiation codon, ATG. In about 770 bp upstream region of Spam1 that has been cloned and sequenced, multiple transcription factor binding sites including a CRE (cAMP-responsive element) were found. We specifically studied the function of the eight nucleotide CRE sequence (TGATGTCA) at -57 (or -62 depending on the strain of mice) of the promoter region. It can bind to the transcription factor CREM (cAMP-responsive element modulator) in gel mobility shift assays using mouse testis nuclear extract, and the binding can be inhibited by a 28 bp oligonucleotide containing the CRE sequence. Similar binding and inhibition assays using rat nuclear extract suggest the existence of a rat CRE sequence and the involvement of CREM in rat Spam1 expression. In vitro transcription assays suggest that CRE is necessary for the transcriptional activity of the murine promoter, and Northern analysis shows that Spam1 transcripts are absent in CREM-knockout mice. The results strongly suggest that the murine Spam1 expression is under the control of CREM, and that this transcriptional regulator for Spam1 might be conserved in other mammals, at least in the rat.