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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Activator protein-2 mediates transcriptional activation of the CYP11A1 gene by interaction with Sp1 rather than binding to DNA.

The ovine P45 side chain cleavage (CYP11A1) enzyme gene, which catalyzes the initial enzymatic step in steroid hormone biosynthesis is transcriptionally regulated in cultured steroidogenic human trophoblastic JEG-3 cells. The ovine CYP11A1 promoter contains two GC-rich footprinted regions referred to as ovine footprints 5 (OF5) and OF3, which are well conserved among the CYP11A1 promoters of different species. These GC-rich sequences resemble activator protein-2 (AP-2)/Sp1 binding sites and were previously implicated in basal and cAMP- regulated activity of the bovine and ovine CYP11A1 promoters. In the current studies, AP-2 induced the ovine CYP11A1 promoter 4.5-fold in JEG-3 cells with full induction requiring the previously defined cAMP-responsive elements. Point mutation of OF3 abolished induction by AP-2, and OF3 was sufficient for induction by AP-2 when linked to a heterologous promoter. AP-2 induction of the CYP11A1 promoter required the basic region (N165-N278) and the carboxy terminus of AP-2 (N413-N437). In the course of investigating the mechanisms by which OF5 and OF3 regulated CYP11A1 transcription, we found that OF5 and OF3 bound Sp1 and Sp3 in JEG-3 cells. AP-2 did not bind OF5 or OF3 directly but rather formed a multiprotein complex with Sp1 in JEG-3 cells. AP-2 associated directly with Sp1 in vitro requiring the AP-2 basic region and the Sp1 carboxy terminus. AP-2 induced Sp1/Sp3 activity independently of AP-2 binding to DNA using a GAL4 paradigm. The Sp1 and Sp3 transactivation domains were linked to the DNA-binding domain of GAL4, and their activity was assessed using a luciferase reporter gene containing only the GAL4 DNA-binding sites linked to the minimal TATA site. AP-2 induced Sp1/ Sp3-GAL4 activity 3- to 4-fold, requiring both the amino and extreme carboxy terminus of AP-2. We conclude that AP-2 can bind to and stimulate Sp1 activity and induces the ovine CYP11A1 promoter through conserved Sp1/Sp3-binding sites in JEG-3 cells. The induction of Sp1 activity by AP-2 may contribute to the induction of other genes that bind Sp1.[1]


  1. Activator protein-2 mediates transcriptional activation of the CYP11A1 gene by interaction with Sp1 rather than binding to DNA. Pena, P., Reutens, A.T., Albanese, C., D'Amico, M., Watanabe, G., Donner, A., Shu, I.W., Williams, T., Pestell, R.G. Mol. Endocrinol. (1999) [Pubmed]
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