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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Nov 25;105(47):18296-301. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0803279105. Epub 2008 Nov 17.

Hierarchical mechanisms build the DNA-binding specificity of FUSE binding protein.

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Gene Regulation Section, Laboratory of Pathology, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, Building 10, Room 2N106, Bethesda, MD 20892-1500, USA.


The far upstream element (FUSE) binding protein (FBP), a single-stranded nucleic acid binding protein, is recruited to the c-myc promoter after melting of FUSE by transcriptionally generated dynamic supercoils. Via interactions with TFIIH and FBP-interacting repressor (FIR), FBP modulates c-myc transcription. Here, we investigate the contributions of FBP's 4 K Homology (KH) domains to sequence selectivity. EMSA and missing contact point analysis revealed that FBP contacts 4 separate patches spanning a large segment of FUSE. A SELEX procedure using paired KH-domains defined the preferred subsequences for each KH domain. Unexpectedly, there was also a strong selection for the noncontacted residues between these subsequences, showing that the contact points must be optimally presented in a backbone that minimizes secondary structure. Strategic mutation of contact points defined in this study disabled FUSE activity in vivo. Because the biological specificity of FBP is tuned at several layers: (i) accessibility of the site; (ii) supercoil-driven melting; (iii) presentation of unhindered bases for recognition; and (iv) modular interaction of KH-domains with cognate bases, the FBP-FIR system and sequence-specific, single-strand DNA binding proteins in general are likely to prove versatile tools for adjusting gene expression.

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