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Core promoter-specific gene regulation: TATA box selectivity and Initiator-dependent bi-directionality of serum response factor-activated transcription.

  • Author(s): Xu, Muyu
  • Gonzalez-Hurtado, Elsie
  • Martinez, Ernest
  • et al.
Abstract

Gene-specific activation by enhancers involves their communication with the basal RNA polymerase II transcription machinery at the core promoter. Core promoters are diverse and may contain a variety of sequence elements such as the TATA box, the Initiator (INR), and the downstream promoter element (DPE) recognized, respectively, by the TATA-binding protein (TBP) and TBP-associated factors of the TFIID complex. Core promoter elements contribute to the gene selectivity of enhancers, and INR/DPE-specific enhancers and activators have been identified. Here, we identify a TATA box-selective activating sequence upstream of the human β-actin (ACTB) gene that mediates serum response factor (SRF)-induced transcription from TATA-dependent but not INR-dependent promoters and requires the TATA-binding/bending activity of TBP, which is otherwise dispensable for transcription from a TATA-less promoter. The SRF-dependent ACTB sequence is stereospecific on TATA promoters but activates in an orientation-independent manner a composite TATA/INR-containing promoter. More generally, we show that SRF-regulated genes of the actin/cytoskeleton/contractile family tend to have a TATA box. These results suggest distinct TATA-dependent and INR-dependent mechanisms of TFIID-mediated transcription in mammalian cells that are compatible with only certain stereospecific combinations of activators, and that a TBP-TATA binding mechanism is important for SRF activation of the actin/cytoskeleton-related gene family.

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