The CCAAT/enhancer binding protein alpha (C/EBP alpha) is a basic zipper protein of the C/EBP family and directs transcription of many genes expressed in liver cells. The C/EBP alpha plays an important role not only in conservation of liver functions, but also in terminal development of the organ. High level of C/EBP alpha mRNA was observed in a fully differentiated hepatoma cell line, while it was markedly decreased in malignant hepatomas. To elucidate the regulation of the C/EBP alpha gene in the dedifferentiated hepatoma cells, we have isolated and analyzed sequence of the 3-kb 5'-flanking region of the gene. As a result, we suggested that the transcription regulation of this gene participated in maintenance of the hepatocyte phenotype.
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