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Nature. 1995 Sep 21;377(6546):254-7.

A general mechanism for transcriptional synergy by eukaryotic activators.

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Department of Biological Chemistry, University of California, Los Angeles, School of Medicine 90095-1737, USA.


One of the important regulatory concepts to emerge from studies of eukaryotic gene expression is that RNA polymerase II promoters and their upstream activators are composed of functional modules whose synergistic action regulates the transcriptional activity of a nearby gene. Biochemical analysis of synergy by ZEBRA, a non-acidic activator of the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) lytic cycle, showed that the synergistic transcriptional effect of promoter sites and activation modules correlates with assembly of the TFIID:TFIIA (DA) complex in DNase I footprinting and gel shift assays. The activator-dependent DA complex differs from a basal DA complex by its ability to bind TFIIB stably in an interaction regulated by TATA-binding protein-associated factors (TAFs). TFIIB enhances the degree of synergism by increasing complex stability. Similar findings were made with the acidic activator GAL4-VP16. Our data suggest a unifying mechanism for gene activation and synergy by acidic and non-acidic activators, and indicate that synergy is manifested at the earliest stage of preinitiation complex assembly.

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