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BACKGROUND: Cysteinyl leukotrienes (LT) are mediators involved in inflammatory and allergic disorders LTC4 synthase catalyzes the first committed step in the synthesis of these inflammatory mediators, and its cellular distribution appears to be unique. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A human genomic library was screened by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) with primers that were designed based on the reported cDNA sequence for the LTC4 synthase gene. The gene was identified in one clone by Southern blotting of restriction enzyme digests, subcloning of fragments containing regions of interest, and DNA sequencing of these subclones. The transcription initiation site was determined by primer extension analysis. Chromosome location was determined by fluorescent in situ hybridization and screening of somatic cell hybrids by PCR. RESULTS: The LTC4 synthase gene is approximately 2.5 kb in length, consisting of five exons (136, 100, 71, 82, and 257 bp, respectively) and four introns (1,447, 102, 84, and 230 bp, respectively). Transcription initiation occurs at a single site 78 bp upstream of the coding region. The 5'-flanking region contains neither a TATA nor a CAAT box. The first 1 kb of the 5'-flanking region, however, contains putative DNA binding motifs for SP-1, AP-1, AP-2, ets factors, and CREB/ATF. A STAT binding motif is present in the first intron. The LTC4 synthase gene is located in the distal region of the long arm of chromosome 5 in 5q35. CONCLUSIONS: The LTC4 synthase gene does not contain elements of a typical regulated gene and may therefore contain novel regulatory elements. This gene is also located in a region on chromosome 5 that appears to play a role in allergic and inflammatory disorders, such as asthma.