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Mol Cell Biol. 2000 Mar;20(6):2147-57.

Transcriptional repression by neuron-restrictive silencer factor is mediated via the Sin3-histone deacetylase complex.

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  • 1Wellcome Laboratory for Molecular Pharmacology, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, United Kingdom.


A large number of neuron-specific genes characterized to date are under the control of negative transcriptional regulation. Many promoter regions of neuron-specific genes possess the repressor element repressor element 1/neuron-restrictive silencing element (RE1/NRSE). Its cognate binding protein, REST/NRSF, is an essential transcription factor; its null mutations result in embryonic lethality, and its dominant negative mutants produce aberrant expression of neuron-specific genes. REST/NRSF acts as a regulator of neuron-specific gene expression in both nonneuronal tissue and developing neurons. Here, we shown that heterologous expression of REST/NRSF in Saccharomyces cerevisiae is able to repress transcription from yeast promoters engineered to contain RE1/NRSEs. Moreover, we have taken advantage of this observation to show that this repression requires both yeast Sin3p and Rpd3p and that REST/NRSF physically interacts with the product of the yeast SIN3 gene in vivo. Furthermore, we show that REST/NRSF binds mammalian SIN3A and HDAC-2 and requires histone deacetylase activity to repress neuronal gene transcription in both nonneuronal and neuronal cell lines. We show that REST/NRSF binding to RE1/NRSE is accompanied by a decrease in the acetylation of histones around RE1/NRSE and that this decrease requires the N-terminal Sin3p binding domain of REST/NRSF. Taken together, these data suggest that REST/NRSF represses neuronal gene transcription by recruiting the SIN3/HDAC complex.

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