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EMBO J. 1996 May 1;15(9):2184-95.

Cooperation at a distance between silencers and proto-silencers at the yeast HML locus.

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Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, France.


Transcriptional repression at the silent yeast mating type loci is achieved through the formation of a particular nucleoprotein complex at specific cis-acting elements called silencers. This complex in turn appears to initiate the spreading of a histone binding protein complex into the surrounding chromatin, which restricts accessibility of the region to the transcription machinery. We have investigated long-range, cooperative effects between silencers by studying the repression of a reporter gene integrated at the HML locus flanked by various combinations of wild-type and mutated silencer sequences. Two silencers can cooperate over >4000 bp to repress transcription efficiently. More importantly, a single binding site for either the repressor activator protein 1 (Rap1), the autonomous replicating sequence (ARS) binding factor 1 (Abf1) or the origin recognition complex (ORC) can enhance the action of a distant silencer without acting as a silencer on its own. Functional cooperativity is demonstrated using a quantitative assay for repression, and varies with the affinity of the binding sites used. Since the repression mechanism is Sir dependent, the Rap1, ORC and/or Abf1 proteins bound to distant DNA elements may interact to create an interface of sufficiently high affinity such that Sir-containing complexes bind, nucleating the silent chromatin state.

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