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J Biol Chem. 2002 Sep 27;277(39):36009-17. Epub 2002 Jul 18.

Circadian Transcription. Thinking outside the E-Box.

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Unit on Temporal Gene Expression, Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Regulation, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


The E-Box is a widely used DNA control element. Despite its brevity and broad distribution the E-Box is a remarkably versatile sequence that affects many different genetic programs, including proliferation, differentiation, tissue-specific responses, and cell death. The circadian clock is one of the latest pathways shown to employ this element. In this context, E-Boxes are likely to play a key role in establishing the robust waves of gene expression characteristic of circadian transcription. The regulatory flexibility of the E-Box hinges on the sequence ambiguity allowed at its core, the strong influence of the surrounding sequences, and the recruitment of spatially and temporally regulated E-Box-binding factors. Therefore, understanding how a particular E-Box can accomplish a specific task entails the identification and systematic analysis of these cis- and trans-acting E-Box modifiers. In the present study we compared the E-Box-containing minimal promoters of vasopressin and cyclin B1, two genes that can respond to the transcriptional oscillators driving the circadian clock and cell cycle, respectively. Results of this comparison will help elucidate the manner in which discreet DNA modules associate to either augment or restrain the activation of potential circadian E-Boxes in response to competing regulatory signals.

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