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Mol Cell Biol. 1996 May;16(5):1889-95.

The E2F transcription factor activates a replication-dependent human H2A gene in early S phase of the cell cycle.

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  • 1Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine, Berlin, Germany.


Histone gene expression is restricted to the S phase of the cell cycle. Control is mediated by a complex network of sequence-specific DNA-binding factors and protein-protein interactions in response to cell cycle progression. To further investigate the regulatory functions that are associated at the transcriptional level, we analyzed the regulation of a replication-dependent human H2A.1-H2B.2 gene pair. We found that transcription factor E2F binds specifically to an E2F recognition motif in the H2A.1 promoter region. Activation of the H2A.1 promoter by E2F-1 was shown by use of luciferase reporter constructs of the intergenic promoter region. Overexpression of the human retinoblastoma suppressor gene product RB suppressed E2F-1 mediated transcriptional activation, indicating an E2F-dependent regulation of promoter activity during the G1-to-S-phase transition. Furthermore, the activity of the H2A.1 promoter was also downregulated by overexpression of the RB-related p107, a protein that has been detected in S-phase-specific protein complexes of cyclin A, E2F, and cdk2. In synchronized HeLa cells, expression of luciferase activity was induced at the beginning of DNA synthesis and was dependent on the presence of an E2F-binding site in the H2A.1 promoter. Together with the finding that E2F-binding motifs are highly conserved in H2A promoters of other species, our results suggest that E2F plays an important role in the coordinate regulation of S-phase-specific histone gene expression.

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