We previously reported that the CNGB1 locus encoding the rod photoreceptor cGMP-gated channel β-subunit is complex, comprising non- overlapping transcription units that give rise to at least six transcripts (Ardell, M.D., Aragon, I., Oliveira, L., Porche, G.E., Burke, E., Pittler, S.J., 1996. The beta subunit of human rod photoreceptor cGMP-gated cation channel is generated from a complex transcription unit. FEBS Lett. 389, 213- 218). To further understand the transcriptional regulation of this extraordinarily complex locus, and to develop a screen for defects in the gene in patients with hereditary disease, we determined its genomic organization and DNA sequence. The CNGB1 locus consists of 33 exons, which span approximately 100 kb of genomic DNA on chromosome 16. The β-subunit comprises two domains, an N-terminal glutamic acid-rich segment (GARP), and a C-terminal channel-like portion. Two additional exons encoding a short GARP transcript and a truncated channel-like transcript have been identified. A major transcription start point was identified 79 bp upstream of the initiator ATG. To begin analysis of the basis for the generation of multiple transcripts, and to identify promoters driving expression in retina, approximately 2.5 kb of the upstream region were sequenced. Putative cis- elements, which can bind the retina-specific transcription factors Crx and Erx, were found immediately upstream of the transcription start point, and may be important for gene expression in this tissue. From our analysis, a model is reported to account for at least four of the retinal transcripts. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.