The human SCGB2A2 (Mammaglobin-1) promoter/enhancer in a helper-dependent adenovirus vector directs high levels of transgene expression in mammary carcinoma cells but not in normal nonmammary cells
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Expression of secretoglobin family 2A member 2 (SCGB2A2, also known as mammaglobin-1) has been detected in a high percentage of primary and metastatic breast tumors, to a lesser extent in normal breast, but not in other normal tissues. Plasmid transfection studies in our lab and others, however, were unable to identify the genetic elements regulating this specificity. Here we demonstrate that a 25-kb DNA fragment derived from the human SCGB2A2 gene upstream of the protein coding sequence was highly active and preferentially expressed in breast cancer cells when introduced via a helper-dependent adenoviral (HDAd) vector. HDAd delivery was selected for its high cloning capacity, its high efficiency of gene transfer, and the absence of cis-acting viral sequences that can potentially interfere with specificity of the inserted promoters. A series of vectors with deletions in the 25-kb fragment was constructed to identify important regulatory regions of the SCGB2A2 promoter. We have determined that elements controlling the specificity of expression reside within the first 345 bp upstream of the coding sequence. In addition, we identified a strong enhancer several kilobases upstream of this minimal promoter. We suggest that the SCGB2A2 promoter/enhancer should be particularly advantageous for gene therapy protocols involving oncolytic viruses or toxic gene transfer via adenovectors to mammary tumors.