Determinants of DNA-binding specificity of ETS-domain transcription factors

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    Several mechanisms are employed by members of transcription factor families to achieve sequence-specific DNA recognition. In this study, we have investigated how members of the ETS-domain transcription factor family achieve such specificity. We have used the ternary complex factor (TCF) subfamily as an example. ERK2 mitogen-activated protein kinase stimulates serum response factor-dependent and autonomous DNA binding by the TCFs Elk-1 and SAP-1a. Phosphorylated Elk-1 and SAP-1a exhibit specificities of DNA binding similar to those of their isolated ETS domains. The ETS domains of Elk-1 and SAP-1a and SAP-2 exhibit related but distinct DNA-binding specificities. A single residue, D-69 (Elk-1) or V-68 (SAP-1), has been identified as the critical determinant for the differential binding specificities of Elk-1 and SAP-1a, and an additional residue, D-38 (Elk-1) or Q-37 (SAP-1), further modulates their DNA binding. Creation of mutations D38Q and D69V is sufficient to confer SAP-1a DNA-binding specificity upon Elk-1 and thereby allow it to bind to a greater spectrum of sites. Molecular modelling indicates that these two residues (D-38 and D-69) are located away from the DNA-binding interface of Elk-1. Our data suggest a mechanism in which these residues modulate DNA binding by influencing the interaction of other residues with DNA.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)3338-3349
    Number of pages11
    JournalMolecular and Cellular Biology
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 1996


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