The 90-kDa heat-shock (HS) proteins (HSP90) are members of the HSP family. Their synthesis is inducible by HS and a variety of stress signals, HSP90 is also abundant under normal physiological conditions and its synthesis can be regulated during growth and differentiation. Therefore, HSP90 is speculated to have important biological functions, in addition to its role in mediating stress responses. However, the mechanism(s) regulating hsp90 gene expression in non-stressed cells is poorly understood. As a prerequisite towards understanding the basis for hsp90 regulation, we have cloned and characterized the 5' flanking region of murine hsp84, one of two genes which code for HSP90 proteins. Full basal promoter activity of hsp84 was found to be associated with a 627-bp region immediately upstream from the transcription start point (tsp). Sequence analysis revealed several putative regulatory elements, including a HS element (HSE), an AP1-binding site (AP1), a cyclic AMP response element (CRE), and four stimulatory protein-1-binding sites (SP1). HS inducibility required the HSE which was bound by HS transcription factor-1(HSF-1) present in extracts prepared from cells exposed to HS. The HSE was not required for basal (non-HS) expression, but, interestingly, two protein-HSE complexes, devoid of HSF-1 and HSF-2, were formed under these conditions. The potential significance of these findings to the expression of hsp84 under normal physiological conditions is discussed.
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