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Nucleic Acids Res. 2012 Jan;40(1):53-64. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkr690. Epub 2011 Sep 8.

Fine tuning of RFX/DAF-19-regulated target gene expression through binding to multiple sites in Caenorhabditis elegans.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada.


In humans, mutations of a growing list of regulatory factor X (RFX) target genes have been associated with devastating genetics disease conditions including ciliopathies. However, mechanisms underlying RFX transcription factors (TFs)-mediated gene expression regulation, especially differential gene expression regulation, are largely unknown. In this study, we explore the functional significance of the co-existence of multiple X-box motifs in regulating differential gene expression in Caenorhabditis elegans. We hypothesize that the effect of multiple X-box motifs is not a simple summation of binding effect to individual X-box motifs located within a same gene. To test this hypothesis, we identified eight C. elegans genes that contain two or more X-box motifs using comparative genomics. We examined one of these genes, F25B4.2, which contains two 15-bp X-box motifs. F25B4.2 expression in ciliated neurons is driven by the proximal motif and its expression is repressed by the distal motif. Our data suggest that two X-box motifs cooperate together to regulate the expression of F25B4.2 in location and intensity. We propose that multiple X-box motifs might be required to tune specific expression level. Our identification of genes with multiple X-box motifs will also improve our understanding of RFX/DAF-19-mediated regulation in C. elegans and in other organisms including humans.

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