Objectives: The regulation of genes involved in glutamatergic function is thought to be a critical for many central nervous system processes including memory, learning, synaptic maintenance, and many pathological states. As part of a larger survey into the key regulatory elements in genes of neuro-psychiatric interest, we sought to identify the promoter regions of genes in this broad family, and to identify sequence variants that alter gene expression.
Methods: Mutation analysis was carried out on the promoters of 20 genes encoding 13 glutamate receptor subunits, four transporters and three metabolizing enzymes using denaturing high performance liquid chromatography. Thirty-nine different promoter haplotypes were cloned into a luciferase reporter gene vector and tested for differences in their ability to drive transcription in both HEK293t and TE671 cell lines.
Results: We have identified a total of 48 sequence variants in six glutamate receptor subunits, four glutamate transporters and two enzymes. Interestingly, seven promoter sequences gave three or more haplotypes from a single individual, indicating gene duplication. No differences in expression greater than 1.35-fold were found between haplotypes originating from the same or paralogous genes.
Conclusion: The lack of common functional polymorphisms in any of these promoters indicates that expression of glutamate receptors and transporters is unusually tightly controlled, and suggests the possibility that non-coding polymorphisms in these genes are rare and may be unlikely to contribute in a major way to neuro-psychiatric phenotypes. This study represents the world's largest survey of the any group of promoters yet performed for any gene system.