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Nucleic Acids Res. 1998 May 15;26(10):2407-14.

High level transactivation by the ecdysone receptor complex at the core recognition motif.

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Institute for Cell Biology, ETH-Hönggerberg, CH-8093 Zürich, Switzerland.


Ecdysteroid signaling in insects is mediated by the ecdysone receptor complex that is composed of a heterodimer of the ecdysone receptor and Ultraspiracle. The DNA binding specificity plays a critical role of defining the repertoire of target genes that respond to the hormone. We report here the determination of the preferred core recognition motif by a binding site selection procedure. The consensus sequence consists of a perfect palindrome of the heptameric half-site sequence GAGGTCA that is separated by a single A/T base pair. No binding polarity of the ecdysone receptor/Ultraspiracle heterodimer to the core recognition motif was observed. This core motif mediated the highest level of ligand-induced transactivation when compared to a series of synthetic ecdysone response elements and to the natural element of the Drosophila hsp27 gene. This is the first report of a palindromic sequence identified as the highest affinity DNA binding site for a heterodimeric nuclear hormone receptor complex. We further present evidence that the ligand of the ecdysone receptor preferentially drives Ultraspiracle from a homodimer into a heterodimer. This mechanism might contribute additionally to a tight control of target gene expression.

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