Mash1, a transcription factor of the basic helix-loop-helix class, is expressed during embryogenesis in restricted regions of the nervous system. An essential role for Mash1 in neural development was demonstrated previously in mice carrying a targeted disruption of the Mash1 gene. Regulation of the precise temporal and spatial expression of Mash1 is thus likely to be important for proper neural development. In this study, sequences that regulate Mash1 expression in the central nervous system were characterized by assaying the expression of lacZ reporter genes in transgenic embryos. A 1158-bp enhancer localized approximately 7 kb upstream of the Mash1 coding region was identified. Deletions within this enhancer region reveal the presence of both positive and negative cis-acting elements. Analysis of multiple sequences within the enhancer demonstrate that different elements preferentially function in different regions within the Mash1-specific CNS expression domain. In addition, a role for sequences 3' of the Mash1 coding region is revealed, providing evidence for posttranscriptional control of Mash1 expression in multiple CNS domains.
Copyright 1998 Academic Press.