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Mol Cell Biol. 1992 Feb;12(2):552-62.

The restricted promoter activity of the liver transcription factor hepatocyte nuclear factor 3 beta involves a cell-specific factor and positive autoactivation.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, University of Illinois College of Medicine, Chicago 60612.


The transcription factor hepatocyte nuclear factor 3 (HNF-3) is involved in the coordinate expression of several liver genes. HNF-3 DNA binding activity is composed of three different liver proteins which recognize the same DNA site. The HNF-3 proteins (designated alpha, beta, and gamma) possess homology in the DNA binding domain and in several additional regions. To understand the cell-type-specific expression of HNF-3 beta, we have defined the regulatory sequences that elicit hepatoma-specific expression. Promoter activity requires -134 bp of HNF-3 beta proximal sequences and binds four nuclear proteins, including two ubiquitous factors. One of these promoter sites interacts with a novel cell-specific factor, LF-H3 beta, whose binding activity correlates with the HNF-3 beta tissue expression pattern. Furthermore, there is a binding site for the HNF-3 protein within its own promoter, suggesting that an autoactivation mechanism is involved in the establishment of HNF-3 beta expression. We propose that both the LF-H3 beta and HNF-3 sites play an important role in the cell-type-specific expression of the HNF-3 beta transcription factor.

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