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EMBO J. 1988 Oct;7(10):3109-13.

Nuclear factor NF-kappa B can interact functionally with its cognate binding site to provide lymphoid-specific promoter function.

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Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Cambridge, MA 02142.


Enhancers and promoters, cis-acting regulators of mammalian gene expression, are modular units containing multiple short binding sites for specific trans-acting transcription factors. To investigate if factors binding to enhancer sequences are functionally different from promoter-binding factors, we asked if a short DNA sequence element in the immunoglobulin kappa (kappa) light chain enhancer that binds to the nuclear factor NF-kappa B could also serve as a functional promoter element. A synthetic oligonucleotide containing this binding site was placed in either orientation upstream of the beta-globin TATA-element. In myeloma cells, the NF-kappa B binding site efficiently directed transcription. The promoter activity was directly correlated with the presence of the nuclear factor NF-kappa B: there was no transcription in fibroblasts or in unstimulated pre-B cells where the factor was absent. Transcription could be stimulated in pre-B cells by treatments known to activate NF-kappa B. Thus, the same nuclear factor can act as a positive activator of both enhancer and promoter function, suggesting that the two functions involve similar events in the transcription process.

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