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Genes Dev. 1997 Apr 1;11(7):887-99.

Distinct roles for P-CREB and LEF-1 in TCR alpha enhancer assembly and activation on chromatin templates in vitro.

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  • 1The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, California 92037-1099, USA.


The distal enhancer of the T-cell receptor (TCR) alpha chain gene has become a paradigm for studies of the assembly and activity of architectural enhancer complexes. Here we have reconstituted regulated TCR alpha enhancer activity in vitro on chromatin templates using purified T-cell transcription factors (LEF-1, AML1, and Ets-1) and the cyclic AMP-responsive transcription factor CREB. When added in combination, these factors activate the TCR alpha enhancer in a highly synergistic manner. Alternatively, the enhancer could also be activated in vitro by high levels of either CREB or a complex containing all of the T-cell proteins (LEF-1, AML1, and Ets-1). Phosphorylation of CREB by protein kinase A enhanced transcription 10-fold in vitro, and this effect was abolished by a point mutation affecting the CREB PKA phosphorylation site (Ser-133). Interestingly, LEF-1 strongly enhanced the binding of the AML1/Ets-1 complex on chromatin, but not nonchromatin, templates. A LEF-1 mutant containing only the HMG DNA-binding domain was sufficient to form a higher-order complex with AML1/Ets-1, but exhibited only partial activity in transcription. We conclude that the T cell-enriched proteins assemble on the enhancer independently of CREB and function synergistically with CREB to activate the TCR alpha enhancer in a chromatin environment.

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