J Biol Chem 287:2459 (2012)
Vivek Nanda 1,2 and Joseph M. Miano1
Smooth muscle cell (SMC) differentiation is defined largely by a number of cell-restricted genes governed directly by the serum response factor (SRF)/myocardin (MYOCD) transcriptional switch. Here, we describe a new SRF/MYOCDdependent, SMC-restricted gene known as Leiomodin1 (Lmod1). Conventional and quantitative RT-PCR indicate Lmod1 mRNA expression is enriched in SMC-containing tissues of the mouse whereas its two paralogs,Lmod2 and Lmod3, exhibit abundant expression in skeletal and cardiac muscle with very low levels in SMCcontaining tissues. Western blotting and immunostaining of various adult and embryonic mouse tissues further confirm SMC-specific expression of the LMOD1 protein. Comparative genomic analysis of the human LMOD1 and LMOD2 genes with their respective mouse and rat orthologs shows high conservation between the three exons and several non-coding sequences, including the immediate 5' promoter region. Two conserved CArG boxes are present in both the LMOD1 and LMOD2 promoter regions, though LMOD1 displays much higher promoter activity and is more responsive to SRF/MYOCD stimulation. Gel shift assays demonstrate clear binding between SRF and the two CArG boxes in human LMOD1. Although the CArG boxes in LMOD1 and LMOD2 are similar, only LMOD1 displays SRF or MYOCD-dependent activation. Transgenic mouse studies reveal wild type LMOD1 promoter activity in cardiac and vascular SMC. Such activity is abolished upon mutation of both CArG boxes. Collectively, these data demonstrate that Lmod1 is a new SMC-restricted SRF/MYOCD target gene.