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Nihon Rinsho. 1995 Apr;53(4):1033-47.

[Regulation of gene expression and recent advance on transcription studies].

[Article in Japanese]

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  • 1Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Chiba University.


Gene expression is governed by multiple cellular processes including transcription, splicing, and translation. Among them, transcriptional regulation is the main regulatory mechanism. Transcription process can be divided into pre-initiation, initiation, elongation and termination, and transcriptional regulation is especially governed through the pre-initiation step. Eukaryotic RNA polymerase alone is not able to initiate specific transcription, but general transcription factors (GTFs) is required for this reaction. In pre-initiation step, many GTFs and RNA polymerase gather at the core promoter of a gene, and form a large initiation complex. There are another class of factors: transcription regulatory factors (TRFs) responsible for the regulation such as tissue-specific/timing-specific transcription and induction/repression of transcription. TRFs directly bind to cis-acting DNA elements which are generally referred enhancers (for activation) or silencers (for repression), and regulate the rate of formation of initiation complex. A TRFs can be divided into at most 4 domains: domains for binding to DNA, regulation of transcription, interaction to other proteins and ligand binding. A number of TRFs can be categorized into rather small numbers of families such as b-zip, Zn-finger, etc. which have a characteristic combination with functional motifs. The third class of transcription factor is referred as a mediator/coactivator, that binds to both TRFs and GTFs, and can transduce the regulatory signal from enhancer to promoter. We can describe many biological processes by a term of transcriptional regulation, such as carcinogenesis, development, morphogenesis, infection and immunity, cell growth and hormone action, etc. However, further studies on chromain/nuclear matrix structure, molecular anatomy of transcription factors, and network of transcription factors are required for understanding of the relationship between biological processes and transcriptional regulation.

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