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EMBO J. 1991 Feb;10(2):263-8.

A common ancestor DNA motif for invertebrate and vertebrate hormone response elements.

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Institut de Biologie Animale, Université de Lausanne, Bâtiment de Biologie, Switzerland.


The ecdysone-responsive DNA sequence of the Drosophila hsp27 gene promoter contains four direct and inverted repeats reminiscent of those that compose the vertebrate palindromic estrogen response element (ERE) and the thyroid hormone/retinoic acid response element (TRE/RRE). Interestingly, a 3 bp substitution in the wild-type Hsp27 ecdysone response element (EcdRE) increases both its similarity with the vertebrate ERE and TRE/RRE and its capacity to confer ecdysone responsiveness to a heterologous promoter. Remarkably, increasing the spacing between the inverted repeats of this strong EcdRE by two nucleotides converts it into an ERE. Inversely, decreasing the spacing between the two inverted repeats of the vertebrate consensus palindromic ERE, from three to one nucleotide, converts it into a functional EcdRE. Thus, the only difference between an invertebrate EcdRE and a vertebrate palindromic ERE or TRE/RRE is in the spacing between the conserved inverted repeated motifs forming these palindromic HREs. The finding that the sequence motif 5'-GGTCA-3' present in the vertebrate ERE and TRE/RRE is also a functionally important characteristic of an invertebrate HRE, suggests that a common ancestor regulatory DNA sequence gave rise to all HREs known so far. We discuss the possibility that this progenitor motif is the GGTCA sequence.

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