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Mol Cell Biol. 1995 Oct;15(10):5461-9.

Mutations on the DNA-binding surface of TATA-binding protein can specifically impair the response to acidic activators in vivo.

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  • 1Department Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


The TATA-binding protein (TBP) contains a concave surface that interacts specifically with TATA promoter elements and a convex surface that mediates protein-protein interactions with general and gene-specific transcription factors. Biochemical experiments suggest that interactions between activator proteins and TBP are important in stimulating transcription by the RNA polymerase II machinery. To gain insight into the role of TBP in mediating transcriptional activation in vivo, we implemented a genetic strategy in Saccharomyces cerevisiae that involved the use of a TBP derivative with altered specificity for TATA elements. By genetically screening a set of TBP mutant libraries that were biased to the convex surface that mediates protein-protein interactions, we identified TBP derivatives that are impaired in the response to three acidic activators (Gcn4, Gal4, and Ace1) but appear normal for constitutive polymerase II transcription. A genetic complementation assay indicates that the activation-defective phenotypes reflect specific functional properties of the TBP derivatives rather than an indirect effect on transcription. Surprisingly, three of the four activation-defective mutants affect residues that directly contact DNA. Moreover, all four mutants are defective for TATA element binding, but they interact normally with an acidic activation domain and TFIIB. In addition, we show that a subset of TBP derivatives with mutations on the DNA-binding surface of TBP are also compromised in their responses to acidic activators in vivo. These observations suggest that interactions at the TBP-TATA element interface can specifically affect the response to acidic activator proteins in vivo.

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