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Mol Cell Biol. 1986 Oct; 6(10): 3329–3340.
PMCID: PMC367078

Multiple sequence elements are required for maximal in vitro transcription of a human histone H2B gene.


As part of our studies on the cell cycle regulation of human histone gene expression, we examined the elements governing transcription of a human histone H2B gene in nuclear extracts derived from human HeLa cells. Circular templates were transcribed at 5- to 10-fold higher levels than were linear templates. A series of deletion, linker-substitution, and point mutants defined cis-acting promoter sequences that were recognized in nuclear extracts. These sequences extended from 118 to 21 base pairs 5' to the transcription initiation site. Elements recognized included (from 5' to 3') a series of direct repeats, a CCAAT homology, a human histone-specific hexamer, an H2B consensus element, and a TATA box. Sequence elements 5' to the hexamer were required for its function. In contrast, the H2B consensus element could function independently of more-5' promoter elements and in turn was essential for the function of upstream elements. An interesting feature of this consensus is that its core octanucleotide (ATTTGCAT) is found in several nonhistone genes. By comparison with functional elements in an H4 promoter, we infer that a combinatorial interaction of general and gene-specific factors may contribute to the S-phase elevation of H2B transcription.

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