Convergent evolution of crystallin gene regulation in squid and chicken: The AP-1/ARE connection

Stanislav I. Tomarev, Melinda K. Duncan, H. John Roth, Ales Cvekl, Joram Piatigorsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Previous experiments have shown that the minimal promoters required for function of the squid SL20-1 and SL11 crystallin genes in transfected rabbit lens epithelial cells contain an overlapping AP-1/antioxidant responsive element (ARE) upstream of the TATA box. This region resembles the PL-1 and PL-2 elements of the chicken βB 1-cry stallin promoter which are essential for promoter function in transfected primary chicken lens epithelial cells. Here we demonstrate by site-directed mutagenesis that the AP-1/ARE sequence is essential for activity of the squid SL20-1 and SL11 promoters in transfected embryonic chicken lens cells and fibroblasts. Promoter activity was higher in transfected lens cells than in fibroblasts. Electrophoretic mobility shift and DNase protection experiments demonstrated the formation of numerous complexes between nuclear proteins of the embryonic chicken lens and the AP-1/ARE sequences of the squid SL20-1 and SL11 crystallin promoters. One of these complexes comigrated and cross-competed with that formed with the PL-1 element of the chicken βB1-crystallin promoter. This complex formed with nuclear extracts from the lens, heart, brain, and skeletal muscle of embryonic chickens and was eliminated by competition with a consensus AP-1 sequence. The nonfunctional mutant AP-1/ ARE sequences did not compete for complex formation. These data raise the intriguing possibility that entirely different, nonhomologous crystallin genes of the chicken and squid have convergently evolved a similar cis-acting regulatory element (AP-1/ARE) for high expression in the lens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)134-143
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Molecular Evolution
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • AP-1
  • Chicken
  • Crystallin
  • Evolution
  • Gene
  • Lens
  • Regulation
  • Squid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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