The CD34 cell surface antigen is a glycoprotein expressed by hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells and also by certain nonhematopoietic cell-types. Because CD34 expression is regulated both at the transcriptional and the posttranscriptional level, we attempted to identify factors that, by interacting with the 5′ flanking region of the human CD34 gene, may regulate its promoter activity in proliferating hematopoietic cells. By electrophoretic mobility shift assay, UV cross-linking and DNase I footprinting analyses, we identified a multiprotein complex, designated NC-3A, that specifically interacts with the CD34 promoter region from nucleotides -375 to -351. Sequence analysis of this region revealed the presence of a distinct motif, TCATTT. Chloramphenicol acetyl-transferase assays used to assess promoter activity in transiently transfected cells showed that this TCATTT-containing element, which is conserved in both the human and the murine CD34 genes, mediates positive regulatory activity in hematopoietic and nonhematopoietic cells, and acts as an enhancer when placed upstream of a heterologous promoter. Moreover, loss of CD34 promoter activity was caused by mutation of the TCATTT motif. In addition, the interaction of the nuclear multiprotein complex NC-3A with this enhancer element is proliferation-dependent. These data indicate that, although not cell-type specific, the formation of a multiprotein complex NC-3A interacting with the region from nucleotides -375 to 351 plays an important role in controlling CD34 promoter activity in proliferating hematopoietic cells.

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