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Nucleic Acids Res. 2005 Jul 13;33(12):3821-7. Print 2005.

A highly distinctive mechanical property found in the majority of human promoters and its transcriptional relevance.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Konan University 8-9-1 Okamoto, Higashinada-ku, Kobe 658-8501, Japan.


A recent study revealed that TATA boxes and initiator sequences have a common anomalous mechanical property, i.e. they comprise distinctive flexible and rigid sequences when compared with the other parts of the promoter region. In the present study, using the flexibility parameters from two different models, we calculated the average flexibility profiles of 1004 human promoters that do not contain canonical promoter elements, such as a TATA box, initiator (Inr) sequence, downstream promoter element or a GC box, and those of 382 human promoters that contain the GC box only. Here, we show that they have a common characteristic mechanical property that is strikingly similar to those of the TATA box-containing or Inr-containing promoters. Their most interesting feature is that the TATA- or Inr-corresponding region lies in the several nucleotides around the transcription start site. We have also found that a dinucleotide step from -1 to +1 (transcription start site) has a slight tendency to adopt CA that is known to be flexible. We also demonstrate that certain synthetic DNA fragments designed to mimic the average mechanical property of these 1386 promoters can drive transcription. This distinctive mechanical property may be the hallmark of a promoter.

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