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EMBO J. 1995 Jun 1;14(11):2570-9.

Poly(dA:dT), a ubiquitous promoter element that stimulates transcription via its intrinsic DNA structure.

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Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Many yeast promoters contain homopolymeric dA:dT sequences that affect nucleosome formation in vitro and are required for wild-type levels of transcription in vivo. Here, we show that poly(dA:dT) is a novel promoter element whose function depends on its intrinsic structure, not its interaction with sequence-specific, DNA-binding proteins. First, poly(dA:dT) stimulates Gcn4-activated transcription in a manner that is length dependent and inversely related to intracellular Gcn4 levels. Second, Datin, the only known poly(dA:dT)-binding protein, behaves as a repressor through poly(dA:dT) sequences. Third, poly(dG:dC), a structurally dissimilar homopolymer that also affects nucleosomes, has transcriptional properties virtually identical to those of poly(dA:dT). Three probes of chromatin structure including HinfI endonuclease cleavage in vivo indicate that poly(dA:dT) increases accessibility of the Gcn4 binding site and adjacent sequences in physiological chromatin. These observations suggest that, by virtue of its intrinsic structure, poly(dA:dT) locally affects nucleosomes and increases the accessibility of transcription factors bound to nearby sequences.

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