Regulation of alternative SRC promoter usage in HepG2 hepatocellular carcinoma cells

Scott M. Dehm, Keith Bonham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Alternative promoters allow for increased spatial and temporal diversity in expression patterns for a single gene. The human SRC gene, encoding the non-receptor c-Src tyrosine kinase, is regulated by two alternative promoters separated by approximately 1 kb. The distal SRC1α promoter is tissue-restricted, while expression of the proximal SRC1A promoter appears to be ubiquitous. A barrier to elucidating the mechanisms of SRC transcriptional regulation has been the finding that the individual strengths of the SRC promoters in isolation do not match their relative strength of use seen in vivo. For example, in HepG2 hepatocellular carcinoma cells, SRC1A is significantly stronger in isolation than SRC1α, despite SRC1α being the predominant promoter used in this cell line. Previously, we have shown that HepG2 cells, as well as various colon cancer cell lines, display activated SRC transcription, which is linked to the elevated c-Src expression and activity necessary for growth and survival of these cells. These findings thus highlight the importance of understanding the mechanisms of SRC transcriptional regulation in human cancer. We hypothesize the discrepancy between individual SRC promoter strength and relative usage in vivo stems from a lack of linked promoter context. Therefore, we have developed and validated a novel dual SRC promoter reporter strategy to allow the simultaneous mechanistic study of both SRC promoters in their natural linked context. This approach has yielded evidence that SRC activation proceeds through genomic element(s) outside the promoter region in HepG2 cells. Therefore, we performed a preliminary study of DNaseI hypersensitive (DH) site composition within the SRC locus. This approach identified a HepG2-specific DH site that displayed activating potential towards the SRC1α promoter. These results thus provide important insight to the mechanism of SRC transcriptional activation in liver cancer cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-150
Number of pages10
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Aug 4 2004

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. S.D. received PhD training support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada as well as the Department of Biochemistry and the College of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan.


  • Alternative promoters
  • DH
  • DNNaseI hypersensitive
  • HNF
  • Liver cancer
  • Oncogene
  • RSV
  • RTK
  • Rous Sarcoma Virus
  • base pair
  • bp
  • c-Src
  • hepatocyte nuclear factor
  • heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein K
  • hnRNP
  • kb
  • kilobase pair
  • receptor tyrosine kinase


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