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G3 (Bethesda). 2012 Oct;2(10):1243-56. doi: 10.1534/g3.112.004002. Epub 2012 Oct 1.

Overlapping ETS and CRE Motifs ((G/C)CGGAAGTGACGTCA) preferentially bound by GABPα and CREB proteins.

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  • 1Laboratory of Metabolism, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


Previously, we identified 8-bps long DNA sequences (8-mers) that localize in human proximal promoters and grouped them into known transcription factor binding sites (TFBS). We now examine split 8-mers consisting of two 4-mers separated by 1-bp to 30-bps (X(4)-N(1-30)-X(4)) to identify pairs of TFBS that localize in proximal promoters at a precise distance. These include two overlapping TFBS: the ETS⇔ETS motif ((C/G)CCGGAAGCGGAA) and the ETS⇔CRE motif ((C/G)CGGAAGTGACGTCAC). The nucleotides in bold are part of both TFBS. Molecular modeling shows that the ETS⇔CRE motif can be bound simultaneously by both the ETS and the B-ZIP domains without protein-protein clashes. The electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA) shows that the ETS protein GABPα and the B-ZIP protein CREB preferentially bind to the ETS⇔CRE motif only when the two TFBS overlap precisely. In contrast, the ETS domain of ETV5 and CREB interfere with each other for binding the ETS⇔CRE. The 11-mer (CGGAAGTGACG), the conserved part of the ETS⇔CRE motif, occurs 226 times in the human genome and 83% are in known regulatory regions. In vivo GABPα and CREB ChIP-seq peaks identified the ETS⇔CRE as the most enriched motif occurring in promoters of genes involved in mRNA processing, cellular catabolic processes, and stress response, suggesting that a specific class of genes is regulated by this composite motif.


EMSA; co-localization; proximal promoters; transcription factor binding sites; transcriptional start site

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