Alternative Promoter Usage


A major level at which gene expression is controlled is at the level of transcription initiation. The earlier view that transcription initiation occurs at a single site for every gene is no longer valid as many genes have more than one site of transcription initiation and, therefore, more than one promoter. The use of alternative promoters is a versatile mechanism for creating diversity and flexibility in the regulation of gene expression.

Keywords: promoter; alternative promoter; gene expression; transcription initiation

Figure 1.

Schematic representation of various patterns of alternative promoter usage. Examples of genes using the respective patterns of alternative promoter usage illustrated in the figure are given in Table . 5′, 3′ and intervening sequences are depicted by full lines. Exons are depicted as boxes. Dotted lines connecting exons indicate splicing patterns. Coding regions are black or hatched to show the origin of protein isoforms. Arrows depict transcription initiation sites used by the alternative promoters. The vertical broken line represents the start ATG in the genomic sequence and the vertical full line represents the start AUG in the mRNA.



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Further Reading

Ayoubi TAY and Van de Ven WJM (1996) Regulation of gene expression by alternative promoters. FASEB Journal 10: 453–460.

Chiu IM, Touhalisky K and Baran C (2001) Multiple controlling mechanisms of FGF1 gene expression through multiple tissue‐specific promoters. Progress in Nucleic Acid Research and Molecular Biology 70: 155–174.

Lee TI and Young RA (2000) Transcription of eukaryotic protein‐coding genes. Annual Review of Genetics 34: 77–137.

Kamat A, Hinshelwood MM, Murry BA and Mendelson CR (2002) Mechanisms in tissue‐specific regulation of estrogen biosynthesis in humans. Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism 13: 122–128.

Mangan ME and Frazer KS (1999) An extensive list of genes that produce alternative transcripts in the mouse. Bioinformatics 15: 170–171.

Orphanides G and Reinberg D (2002) A unified theory of gene expression. Cell 108: 439–451.

Schibler U and Sierra F (1987) Alternative promoters in developmental gene expression. Annual Review of Genetics 21: 237–257.

Web Links

Leiden Muscular Dystrophy pages. This site provides comprehensive information on a complex transcription unit that uses alternative promoters

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How to Cite close
Ayoubi, Torik(Sep 2005) Alternative Promoter Usage. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0005286]