Cloning of the rat Slc14a2 gene and genomic organization of the UT-A urea transporter.
We cloned the Slc14a2 gene and determined the genomic organization of the rat urea transporter UT-A. Slc14a2, the gene encoding the rat UT-A transporter, extends for more that 300 kb. The four known rat mRNA isoforms: UT-A1, UT-A2, UT-A3, and UT-A4 are transcribed from 24 exons. The Slc14a2 genomic map also accounts for 3'-untranslated sequences expressed alternatively in UT-A1, UT-A2, and UT-A3. We previously identified a TATA-less, tonicity-responsive promoter controlling the transcription of UT-A1, UT-A3, and UT-A4 from a single initiation site in the 5'-flanking region of the gene. Here, we describe a second, internal promoter in intron 12, which controls the transcription of UT-A2 starting from exon 13. This region contains a TATA motif upstream from the UT-A2 transcription start site, and shows consensus sequences for the cAMP response element (CRE) and for the tonicity enhancer (TonE) motif. Stimulation by cAMP induces UT-A2 mRNA expression in mIMCD3 cells, and luciferase activity in mIMCD3 cells transfected with those pGL3 constructs including the CRE sequences. Although long-term exposure to hypertonicity induces UT-A2 expression in mIMCD3 cells, hypertonicity does not induce significantly the activity of the promoter in intron 12. In summary, we describe the genomic structure of the rat UT-A urea transporter, encoded by the Slc14a2 gene. Our findings suggest that two promoters regulate transcription of the four UT-A isoforms, and that stimulation of transcription by vasopressin, mediated by cAMP and CRE sequences, and controlled by an intronic promoter, may contribute to the increase in UT-A2 expression during water deprivation.