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

Negative regulation of the vascular smooth muscle alpha-actin gene in fibroblasts and myoblasts: disruption of enhancer function by sequence-specific single-stranded-DNA-binding proteins.

Transcriptional activation and repression of the vascular smooth muscle (VSM) alpha-actin gene in myoblasts and fibroblasts is mediated, in part, by positive and negative elements contained within an approximately 30-bp polypurine-polypyrimidine tract. This region contains binding sites for an essential transcription-activating protein, identified as transcriptional enhancer factor I (TEF-1), and two tissue-restrictive, sequence-specific, single-stranded-DNA-binding activities termed VACssBF1 and VACssBF2. TEF-1 has no detectable single-stranded-DNA-binding activity, while VACssBF1 and VACssBF2 have little, if any, affinity for double-stranded DNA. Site-specific mutagenesis experiments demonstrate that the determinants of VACssBF1 and VACssBF2 binding lie on opposite strands of the DNA helix and include the TEF-1 recognition sequence. Functional analysis of this region reveals that the CCAAT box-binding protein nuclear factor Y (NF-Y) can substitute for TEF-1 in activating VSM alpha-actin transcription but that the TEF-1-binding site is essential for the maintenance of full transcriptional repression. Importantly, replacement of the TEF-1-binding site with that for NF-Y diminishes the ability of VACssBF1 and VACssBF2 to bind to separated single strands. Additional activating mutations have been identified which lie outside of the TEF-1-binding site but which also impair single-stranded-DNA-binding activity. These data support a model in which VACssBF1 and VACssBF2 function as repressors of VSM alpha-actin transcription by stabilizing a local single-stranded-DNA conformation, thus precluding double-stranded-DNA binding by the essential transcriptional activator TEF-1.[1]


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