Activation and reintegration of retrotransposons into the genome is linked to several diseases in human and rodents, but mechanisms of gene activation remain largely unknown. Here we identify a novel gene of L1Md-A2 lineage in vascular smooth muscle cells and show that environmental hydrocarbons enhance gene expression and activate monomer-driven transcription via a redox-sensitive mechanism. Site-directed mutagenesis and progressive deletion analyses identified two antioxidant/electrophile response-like elements (5′-GTGACTCGAGC-3′) within the A2/3 and A3 region. These elements mediated activation, with the A3 monomer playing an essential role in transactivation. This signaling pathway may contribute to gene instability during the course of atherogenesis.
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