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EMBO J. 2010 Nov 3;29(21):3660-72. doi: 10.1038/emboj.2010.235. Epub 2010 Sep 21.

CBP/p300 double null cells reveal effect of coactivator level and diversity on CREB transactivation.

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Department of Biochemistry, St Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN 38105, USA.


It remains uncertain how the DNA sequence of mammalian genes influences the transcriptional response to extracellular signals. Here, we show that the number of CREB-binding sites (CREs) affects whether the related histone acetyltransferases (HATs) CREB-binding protein (CBP) and p300 are required for endogenous gene transcription. Fibroblasts with both CBP and p300 knocked-out had strongly attenuated histone H4 acetylation at CREB-target genes in response to cyclic-AMP, yet transcription was not uniformly inhibited. Interestingly, dependence on CBP/p300 was often different between reporter plasmids and endogenous genes. Transcription in the absence of CBP/p300 correlated with endogenous genes having more CREs, more bound CREB, and more CRTC2 (a non-HAT coactivator of CREB). Indeed, CRTC2 rescued cAMP-inducible expression for certain genes in CBP/p300 null cells and contributed to the CBP/p300-independent expression of other targets. Thus, endogenous genes with a greater local concentration and diversity of coactivators tend to have more resilient-inducible expression. This model suggests how gene expression patterns could be tuned by altering coactivator availability rather than by changing signal input or transcription factor levels.

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