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Methods. 1997 Feb;11(2):197-204.

Genomic footprinting of retinoic acid regulated promoters in embryonal carcinoma cells.

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Laboratory of Molecular Growth Regulation, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


Retinoic acid (RA) treatment of embryonal carcinoma (EC) cells initiates a cascade of alterations in gene regulation, leading to their differentiation into various cell types. In P19 EC cells RA treatment stimulates induction of the RAR beta gene, while it represses Oct3/4 gene expression. Here we present dimethylsulfate-based genomic footprinting analyses of these two genes. We found that the RAR beta promoter is not occupied prior to RA treatment, but following RA treatment all regulatory elements in this promoter become occupied. On the other hand, the Oct3/4 promoter is occupied at all three known elements before RA treatment, but this occupancy is coordinately lost following the treatment. Thus, factor occupancy coincides with expression of the genes. It is likely that the presence of factor binding or its absence revealed here represents a mechanism of the regulated expression of these genes in vivo. Our results demonstrate the power of genomic footprinting for studying regulatory events for transcription in vivo. In contrast, with in vitro protein-DNA binding assay, factors for both promoters are present in these cells regardless of RA treatment. It has been shown that RA receptor (RAR) and retinoid X receptor (RXR), by heterodimerization, mediate the RA action in EC cells. To elucidate the role of RAR/RXR heterodimers in the RAR beta promoter occupancy in vivo, genomic footprinting has been performed in P19 cells stably expressing dominant negative mutants of RXR. Two such mutants, lacking either the DNA binding domain or the C-terminal activation domain, inhibit RA induction of the RAR beta gene in these cells. RA-induced factor occupancy is also markedly inhibited at all elements in the RAR beta promoter in these cells. Our results show that binding of liganded RAR/RXR heterodimers to RARE is required for other factors to gain access to their respective elements in the promoter.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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