Transcriptional repression by the Drosophila giant protein: cis element positioning provides an alternative means of interpreting an effector gradient.
Early developmental patterning of the Drosophila embryo is driven by the activities of a diverse set of maternally and zygotically derived transcription factors, including repressors encoded by gap genes such as Kruppel, knirps, giant and the mesoderm-specific snail. The mechanism of repression by gap transcription factors is not well understood at a molecular level. Initial characterization of these transcription factors suggests that they act as short-range repressors, interfering with the activity of enhancer or promoter elements 50 to 100 bp away. To better understand the molecular mechanism of short-range repression, we have investigated the properties of the Giant gap protein. We tested the ability of endogenous Giant to repress when bound close to the transcriptional initiation site and found that Giant effectively represses a heterologous promoter when binding sites are located at -55 bp with respect to the start of transcription. Consistent with its role as a short-range repressor, as the binding sites are moved to more distal locations, repression is diminished. Rather than exhibiting a sharp 'step-function' drop-off in activity, however, repression is progressively restricted to areas of highest Giant concentration. Less than a two-fold difference in Giant protein concentration is sufficient to determine a change in transcriptional status of a target gene. This effect demonstrates that Giant protein gradients can be differentially interpreted by target promoters, depending on the exact location of the Giant binding sites within the gene. Thus, in addition to binding site affinity and number, cis element positioning within a promoter can affect the response of a gene to a repressor gradient. We also demonstrate that a chimeric Gal4-Giant protein lacking the basic/zipper domain can specifically repress reporter genes, suggesting that the Giant effector domain is an autonomous repression domain. (+info)
Assembly requirements of PU.1-Pip (IRF-4) activator complexes: inhibiting function in vivo using fused dimers.
Gene expression in higher eukaryotes appears to be regulated by specific combinations of transcription factors binding to regulatory sequences. The Ets factor PU.1 and the IRF protein Pip (IRF-4) represent a pair of interacting transcription factors implicated in regulating B cell-specific gene expression. Pip is recruited to its binding site on DNA by phosphorylated PU.1. PU.1-Pip interaction is shown to be template directed and involves two distinct protein-protein interaction surfaces: (i) the ets and IRF DNA-binding domains; and (ii) the phosphorylated PEST region of PU.1 and a lysine-requiring putative alpha-helix in Pip. Thus, a coordinated set of protein-protein and protein-DNA contacts are essential for PU.1-Pip ternary complex assembly. To analyze the function of these factors in vivo, we engineered chimeric repressors containing the ets and IRF DNA-binding domains connected by a flexible POU domain linker. When stably expressed, the wild-type fused dimer strongly repressed the expression of a rearranged immunoglobulin lambda gene, thereby establishing the functional importance of PU.1-Pip complexes in B cell gene expression. Comparative analysis of the wild-type dimer with a series of mutant dimers distinguished a gene regulated by PU.1 and Pip from one regulated by PU.1 alone. This strategy should prove generally useful in analyzing the function of interacting transcription factors in vivo, and for identifying novel genes regulated by such complexes. (+info)
A premature termination codon interferes with the nuclear function of an exon splicing enhancer in an open reading frame-dependent manner.
Premature translation termination codon (PTC)-mediated effects on nuclear RNA processing have been shown to be associated with a number of human genetic diseases; however, how these PTCs mediate such effects in the nucleus is unclear. A PTC at nucleotide (nt) 2018 that lies adjacent to the 5' element of a bipartite exon splicing enhancer within the NS2-specific exon of minute virus of mice P4 promoter-generated pre-mRNA caused a decrease in the accumulated levels of P4-generated R2 mRNA relative to P4-generated R1 mRNA, although the total accumulated levels of P4 product remained the same. This effect was seen in nuclear RNA and was independent of RNA stability. The 5' and 3' elements of the bipartite NS2-specific exon enhancer are redundant in function, and when the 2018 PTC was combined with a deletion of the 3' enhancer element, the exon was skipped in the majority of the viral P4-generated product. Such exon skipping in response to a PTC, but not a missense mutation at nt 2018, could be suppressed by frame shift mutations in either exon of NS2 which reopened the NS2 open reading frame, as well as by improvement of the upstream intron 3' splice site. These results suggest that a PTC can interfere with the function of an exon splicing enhancer in an open reading frame-dependent manner and that the PTC is recognized in the nucleus. (+info)
Selection and characterization of pre-mRNA splicing enhancers: identification of novel SR protein-specific enhancer sequences.
Splicing enhancers are RNA sequences required for accurate splice site recognition and the control of alternative splicing. In this study, we used an in vitro selection procedure to identify and characterize novel RNA sequences capable of functioning as pre-mRNA splicing enhancers. Randomized 18-nucleotide RNA sequences were inserted downstream from a Drosophila doublesex pre-mRNA enhancer-dependent splicing substrate. Functional splicing enhancers were then selected by multiple rounds of in vitro splicing in nuclear extracts, reverse transcription, and selective PCR amplification of the spliced products. Characterization of the selected splicing enhancers revealed a highly heterogeneous population of sequences, but we identified six classes of recurring degenerate sequence motifs five to seven nucleotides in length including novel splicing enhancer sequence motifs. Analysis of selected splicing enhancer elements and other enhancers in S100 complementation assays led to the identification of individual enhancers capable of being activated by specific serine/arginine (SR)-rich splicing factors (SC35, 9G8, and SF2/ASF). In addition, a potent splicing enhancer sequence isolated in the selection specifically binds a 20-kDa SR protein. This enhancer sequence has a high level of sequence homology with a recently identified RNA-protein adduct that can be immunoprecipitated with an SRp20-specific antibody. We conclude that distinct classes of selected enhancers are activated by specific SR proteins, but there is considerable sequence degeneracy within each class. The results presented here, in conjunction with previous studies, reveal a remarkably broad spectrum of RNA sequences capable of binding specific SR proteins and/or functioning as SR-specific splicing enhancers. (+info)
A new element within the T-cell receptor alpha locus required for tissue-specific locus control region activity.
Locus control regions (LCRs) are cis-acting regulatory elements thought to provide a tissue-specific open chromatin domain for genes to which they are linked. The gene for T-cell receptor alpha chain (TCRalpha) is exclusively expressed in T cells, and the chromatin at its locus displays differentially open configurations in expressing and nonexpressing tissues. Mouse TCRalpha exists in a complex locus containing three differentially regulated genes. We previously described an LCR in this locus that confers T-lineage-specific expression upon linked transgenes. The 3' portion of this LCR contains an unrestricted chromatin opening activity while the 5' portion contains elements restricting this activity to T cells. This tissue-specificity region contains four known DNase I hypersensitive sites, two located near transcriptional silencers, one at the TCRalpha enhancer, and another located 3' of the enhancer in a 1-kb region of unknown function. Analysis of this region using transgenic mice reveals that the silencer regions contribute negligibly to LCR activity. While the enhancer is required for complete LCR function, its removal has surprisingly little effect on chromatin structure or expression outside the thymus. Rather, the region 3' of the enhancer appears responsible for the tissue-differential chromatin configurations observed at the TCRalpha locus. This region, herein termed the "HS1' element," also increases lymphoid transgene expression while suppressing ectopic transgene activity. Thus, this previously undescribed element is an integral part of the TCRalphaLCR, which influences tissue-specific chromatin structure and gene expression. (+info)
The paired-domain transcription factor Pax8 binds to the upstream enhancer of the rat sodium/iodide symporter gene and participates in both thyroid-specific and cyclic-AMP-dependent transcription.
The gene encoding the Na/I symporter (NIS) is expressed at high levels only in thyroid follicular cells, where its expression is regulated by the thyroid-stimulating hormone via the second messenger, cyclic AMP (cAMP). In this study, we demonstrate the presence of an enhancer that is located between nucleotides -2264 and -2495 in the 5'-flanking region of the NIS gene and that recapitulates the most relevant aspects of NIS regulation. When fused to either its own or a heterologous promoter, the NIS upstream enhancer, which we call NUE, stimulates transcription in a thyroid-specific and cAMP-dependent manner. The activity of NUE depends on the four most relevant sites, identified by mutational analysis. The thyroid-specific transcription factor Pax8 binds at two of these sites. Mutations that interfere with Pax8 binding also decrease transcriptional activity of the NUE. Furthermore, expression of Pax8 in nonthyroid cells results in transcriptional activation of NUE, strongly suggesting that the paired-domain protein Pax8 plays an important role in NUE activity. The NUE responds to cAMP in both protein kinase A-dependent and -independent manners, indicating that this enhancer could represent a novel type of cAMP responsive element. Such a cAMP response requires Pax8 but also depends on the integrity of a cAMP responsive element (CRE)-like sequence, thus suggesting a functional interaction between Pax8 and factors binding at the CRE-like site. (+info)
Reduced phosphorylation of p50 is responsible for diminished NF-kappaB binding to the major histocompatibility complex class I enhancer in adenovirus type 12-transformed cells.
Reduced cell surface levels of major histocompatibility complex class I antigens enable adenovirus type 12 (Ad12)-transformed cells to escape immunosurveillance by cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL), contributing to their tumorigenic potential. In contrast, nontumorigenic Ad5-transformed cells harbor significant cell surface levels of class I antigens and are susceptible to CTL lysis. Ad12 E1A mediates down-regulation of class I transcription by increasing COUP-TF repressor binding and decreasing NF-kappaB activator binding to the class I enhancer. The mechanism underlying the decreased binding of nuclear NF-kappaB in Ad12-transformed cells was investigated. Electrophoretic mobility shift assay analysis of hybrid NF-kappaB dimers reconstituted from denatured and renatured p50 and p65 subunits from Ad12- and Ad5-transformed cell nuclear extracts demonstrated that p50, and not p65, is responsible for the decreased ability of NF-kappaB to bind to DNA in Ad12-transformed cells. Hypophosphorylation of p50 was found to correlate with restricted binding of NF-kappaB to DNA in Ad12-transformed cells. The importance of phosphorylation of p50 for NF-kappaB binding was further demonstrated by showing that an NF-kappaB dimer composed of p65 and alkaline phosphatase-treated p50 from Ad5-transformed cell nuclear extracts could not bind to DNA. These results suggest that phosphorylation of p50 is a key step in the nuclear regulation of NF-kappaB in adenovirus-transformed cells. (+info)
Contributions to gene activation by multiple functions of Bicoid.
Bicoid is a Drosophila morphogenetic protein required for the development of anterior structures in the embryo. To gain a better understanding of how Bicoid works as a transcriptional activator, we systematically analysed various functions of Bicoid required for gene activation. We provide evidence suggesting that Bicoid is an intrinsically weak activator. First, our biochemical experiments demonstrate that the Bicoid-DNA complexes are very unstable, suggesting a weak DNA-binding function of Bicoid. This idea is further supported by our experiments demonstrating that the same number of LexA-Bicoid fusion molecules can activate transcription more effectively from LexA sites than from Bicoid sites. Secondly, we demonstrate that transcriptional activation by the weak activator Bicoid is readily influenced by the local enhancer environment. These influences are decreased when the Bicoid function is enforced by attaching to it either a known dimerization domain or the strong activation domain VP16. VP16 can also compensate for the loss of some Bicoid sites in an enhancer element. Our experiments demonstrate that the outcome of transcriptional activation by Bicoid is determined by multiple weak functions that are interconnected, a finding that can further help us to understand how this morphogenetic protein achieves its molecular functions. (+info)