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Nature. 1988 Aug 25;334(6184):721-4.

Negative effect of the transcriptional activator GAL4.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138.


The yeast transcriptional activator GAL4 binds specific sites on DNA to activate transcription of adjacent genes. The distinct activating regions of GAL4 are rich in acidic residues and it has been suggested that these regions interact with another protein component of the transcriptional machinery (such as the TATA-binding protein or RNA polymerase II) while the DNA-binding region serves to position the activating region near the gene. Here we show that various GAL4 derivatives, when expressed at high levels in yeast, inhibit transcription of certain genes lacking GAL4 binding sites, that more efficient activators inhibit more strongly and that inhibition does not depend on the DNA-binding domain. We suggest that this inhibition, which we call squelching, reflects titration of a transcription factor by the activating region of GAL4.

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