Headpin is a novel serine proteinase inhibitor (serpin) that is down-regulated in squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity and in squamous cell carcinoma cell lines of the head and neck. Using a panel of 18q21.3 YAC clones, we mapped and cloned the HEADPIN gene. The gene spans 10 kb and is composed of eight exons and seven introns. The genomic structure is identical with some other ovalbumin serpins (ov-serpins) in terms of the numbers, position and phasing of the intron/exon boundaries. HEADPIN was mapped within the serpin cluster in 18q21.3 between MASPIN and SCCA2 as follows: cen-MASPIN-HEADPIN-SCCA2-SCCA1-tel. The transcription start site was determined and the promoter activity of the 5'-flanking region was analyzed. Luciferase promoter assays in HaCaT cells showed that the -432 to -144 nucleotide region has functional promoter activity. The activity of the promoter/enhancer was not observed in head and neck cancer cell lines TU167 and UMSCC1 which lack headpin expression. These data suggest that the differential expression of headpin in normal and carcinoma-derived cells is regulated at the transcriptional level. Understanding the genomic organization and transcriptional regulation of the ov-serpins clustered within 18q21.3 provides a critical framework for assessing their potential role in cancer. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441-446
Number of pages6
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Gene Structure and Expression
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Jul 24 2000


  • 18q21.3
  • Genome organization
  • Headpin
  • Ovalbumin serpins
  • Promoter


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