cDNA cloning and promoter analysis of rat caspase-9

J. Nishiyama, X. Yi, M. A. Venkatachalam, Z. Dong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Caspase-9 is the apex caspase of the mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis, which plays a critical role in apoptotic initiation and progression. However, gene regulation of caspase-9 is largely unknown. This is in part due to the lack of information on the gene promoter. Here we have cloned the full-length cDNA of rat caspase-9 and have isolated promoter regions of this gene. The rat caspase-9 cDNA of 2058 bp predicts a protein of 454 amino acids, which contains a caspase-recruitment domain ('CARD') at the N-terminus and enzymic domains at the C-terminus. The enzyme's active site, with a characteristic motif of QACGG, was also identified. Overall, rat and human caspase-9 have 71% identity. With the cDNA sequence, we subsequently isolated the proximal 5′-flanking regions of rat caspase-9 by the procedure of genomic walking. The 2270 bp genomic segment is 'TATA-less', but contains several GC boxes. Elements binding known transcription factors such as Sp-1, Pit-1, CCAAT-enhancer-binding protein (C/EBP), glucocorticoid receptor and hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) were also identified. When cloned into reporter gene vectors, the genomic segment showed significant promoter activity, indicating that the 5′-flanking regions isolated by genomic walking contain the gene promoter of rat caspase-9. Of significance is that the cloned promoter segments were activated by severe hypoxia, conditions inducing caspase-9 transcription. Thus, the genomic sequences reported here contain not only the basal promoter of rat caspase-9 but also regulatory elements responsive to pathophysiological stimuli including hypoxia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-56
Number of pages8
JournalBiochemical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 15 2001


  • Apoptosis
  • Gene regulation
  • Hypoxia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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