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J Biol Chem. 2005 Oct 21;280(42):35184-94. Epub 2005 Aug 16.

The long terminal repeat (LTR) of ERV-9 human endogenous retrovirus binds to NF-Y in the assembly of an active LTR enhancer complex NF-Y/MZF1/GATA-2.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Institute of Molecular Medicine and Genetics, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, Georgia 30912, USA.


The solitary ERV-9 long terminal repeat (LTR) located upstream of the HS5 site in the human beta-globin locus control region exhibits prominent enhancer activity in embryonic and erythroid cells. The LTR enhancer contains 14 tandemly repeated subunits with recurrent CCAAT, GTGGGGA, and GATA motifs. Here we showed that in erythroid K562 cells these DNA motifs bound the following three transcription factors: ubiquitous NF-Y and hematopoietic MZF1 and GATA-2. These factors and their target DNA motifs exhibited a hierarchy of DNA/protein and protein/protein binding affinities: NF-Y/CCAAT > NF-Y/GATA-2 > NF-Y/MZF1 > MZF1/GTGGGGA; GATA-2/GATA. Through protein/protein interactions, NF-Y bound at the CCAAT motif recruited MZF1 and GATA-2, but not Sp1 and GATA-1, and stabilized their binding to the neighboring GTGGGGA and GATA sites to assemble a novel LTR enhancer complex, NF-Y/MZF1/GATA-2. In the LTR-HS5-epsilonp-GFP plasmid integrated into K562 cells, mutation of the CCAAT motif in the LTR enhancer to abolish NF-Y binding inactivated the enhancer, closed down the chromatin structure of the epsilon-globin promoter, and silenced transcription of the green fluorescent protein gene. The results indicated that NF-Y bound at the CCAAT motifs assembled a robust LTR enhancer complex, which could act over the intervening DNA to remodel the chromatin structure and to stimulate the transcription of the downstream gene locus.

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