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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Aug 5;94(16):8812-7.

Transcription initiation is controlled by three core promoter elements in the hgl5 gene of the protozoan parasite Entamoeba histolytica.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA.


Entamoeba histolytica is a single cell eukaryote that is the etiologic agent of amoebic colitis. Core promoter elements of E. histolytica protein encoding genes include a TATA-like sequence (GTATTTAAAG/C) at -30, a novel element designated GAAC (GAACT) that has a variable location between TATA and the site of transcription initiation, and a putative initiator (Inr) element (AAAAATTCA) overlying the site of transcription initiation. The presence of three separate conserved sequences in a eukaryotic core promoter is unprecedented and prompted examination of their roles in regulating transcription initiation. Alterations of all three regions in the hgl5 gene decreased reporter gene activity with the greatest effect seen by mutation of the GAAC element. Positional analysis of the TATA box demonstrated that transcription initiated consistently 30-31 bases downstream of the TATA region. Mutation of either the TATA or GAAC elements resulted in the appearance of new transcription start sites upstream of +1 in the promoter of the hgl5 gene. Mutation of the Inr element resulted in no change in the site of transcription initiation; however, in the presence of a mutated TATA and GAAC regions, the Inr element controlled the site of transcription initiation. We conclude that all three elements play a role in determining the site of transcription initiation. The variable position of the GAAC element relative to the site of transcription initiation, and the multiple transcription initiations that resulted from its mutation, indicate that the GAAC element has an important and apparently novel role in transcriptional control in E. histolytica.

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