DNase I hypersensivity of nuclear chromatin near the rabbit cytochrome P450IIC genes was investigated by indirect end-labeling genomic Southern analysis. Major DNase I hypersensitive sites were observed in proximal (-200 base pairs) and distal (-2000 to -2200 base pairs) regions of the genes. The presence of the proximal site correlated well with the expression states of the individual genes. In contrast, the distal site was present in DNA from both liver and kidney nuclei and in untreated and pheno-barbital-treated animals irrespective of the expression state of the genes. However, the distal site was present only in genes that respond to phenobarbital (cytochromes P450IIC1 and P450IIC2) and was not detected in the constitutive cytochrome P450IIC3 gene. The nucleotide sequences of 500 base pairs in the distal site regions of cytochromes P450IIC1 and P450IIC2 were 67% similar, and hepatocyte nuclear factor 1 like motifs were conserved in these two sequences. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that distal regions cooperate with the proximal promoter regions in the regulation of cytochrome P450IIC gene expression.
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