DLK2 is an EGF-like membrane protein, closely related to DLK1, which is involved in adipogenesis. Both proteins interact with the NOTCH1 receptor and are able to modulate its activation. The expression of the gene Dlk2 is coordinated with that of Dlk1 in several tissues and cell lines. Unlike Dlk1, the mouse Dlk2 gene and its locus at chromosome 17 are not fully characterized.
The goal of this work was the characterization of Dlk2 mRNA, as well as the analysis of the mechanisms that control its basal transcription. First, we analyzed the Dlk2 transcripts expressed by several mouse cells lines and tissues, and mapped the transcription start site by 5' Rapid Amplification of cDNA Ends. In silico analysis revealed that Dlk2 possesses a TATA-less promoter containing minimal promoter elements associated with a CpG island, and sequences for Inr and DPE elements. Besides, it possesses six GC-boxes, considered as consensus sites for the transcription factor Sp1. Indeed, we report that Sp1 directly binds to the Dlk2 promoter, activates its transcription, and regulates its level of expression.
Our results provide the first characterization of Dlk2 transcripts, map the location of the Dlk2 core promoter, and show the role of Sp1 as a key regulator of Dlk2 transcription, providing new insights into the molecular mechanisms that contribute to the expression of the Dlk2 gene.