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Mol Cell. 1999 Dec;4(6):961-9.

An early developmental transcription factor complex that is more stable on nucleosome core particles than on free DNA.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, and Biochemistry, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island 02912, USA.


In vivo footprinting studies have shown that transcription factor binding sites for HNF3 and GATA-4 are occupied on the albumin gene enhancer in embryonic endoderm, prior to the developmental activation of liver gene transcription. We have investigated how these factors can stably occupy silent chromatin. Remarkably, we find that HNF3, but not GATA-4 or a GAL4 control protein, binds far more stably to nucleosome core particles than to free DNA. In the presence of HNF3, GATA-4 binds stably to an HNF3-positioned nucleosome. Histone acetylation does not affect HNF3 binding. This is evidence for stable nucleosome binding by a transcription factor and shows that a winged helix protein is sufficient to initiate the assembly of an enhancer complex on nonacetylated nucleosomes.

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