A single nucleotide polymorphism in the Bax gene promoter affects transcription and influences retinal ganglion cell death.

Nickells Lab // Publications // Mar 31 2010

PubMed ID: 20360947

Author(s): Semaan SJ, Li Y, Nickells RW. A single nucleotide polymorphism in the Bax gene promoter affects transcription and influences retinal ganglion cell death. ASN Neuro. 2010 Mar 31;2(2):e00032. doi: 10.1042/AN20100003. PMID 20360947

Journal: Asn Neuro, Volume 2, Issue 2, Mar 2010

Pro-apoptotic Bax is essential for RGC (retinal ganglion cell) death. Gene dosage experiments in mice, yielding a single wild-type Bax allele, indicated that genetic background was able to influence the cell death phenotype. DBA/2J(Bax+/-) mice exhibited complete resistance to nerve damage after 2 weeks (similar to Bax(-/-) mice), but 129B6(Bax+/-) mice exhibited significant cell loss (similar to wild-type mice). The different cell death phenotype was associated with the level of Bax expression, where 129B6 neurons had twice the level of endogenous Bax mRNA and protein as DBA/2J neurons. Sequence analysis of the Bax promoters between these strains revealed a single nucleotide polymorphism (T(129B6) to C(DBA/2J)) at position -515. A 1.5- to 2.5-fold increase in transcriptional activity was observed from the 129B6 promoter in transient transfection assays in a variety of cell types, including RGC5 cells derived from rat RGCs. Since this polymorphism occurred in a p53 half-site, we investigated the requirement of p53 for the differential transcriptional activity. Differential transcriptional activity from either 129B6 or DBA/2J Bax promoters were unaffected in p53(-/-) cells, and addition of exogenous p53 had no further effect on this difference, thus a role for p53 was excluded. Competitive electrophoretic mobility-shift assays identified two DNA-protein complexes that interacted with the polymorphic region. Those forming Complex 1 bound with higher affinity to the 129B6 polymorphic site, suggesting that these proteins probably comprised a transcriptional activator complex. These studies implicated quantitative expression of the Bax gene as playing a possible role in neuronal susceptibility to damaging stimuli.