Comparison of TATA-binding protein recognition of a variant and consensus DNA promoters

Robyn M. Powell, Kay M. Parkhurst, Lawrence J. Parkhurst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Assembly of transcription pre-initiation complexes proceeds from the initial complex formed between "TATA" bearing promoter DNA and the TATA-binding protein (TBP). Our laboratory has been investigating the relationships among TATA sequence, TBP·TATA solution structure, recognition mechanisms, and transcription efficiency. TBP·TATA interactions have been modeled by global analysis of detailed kinetic and thermodynamic data obtained using fluorimetric and fluorometric techniques in conjunction with fluorescence resonance energy transfer. We have reported recently that TBP recognition of two consensus promoters, adenovirus major late (AdMLP: TATAAAAG) and E4 (TATATATA), is well described by a linear two-intermediate mechanism with simultaneous DNA binding and bending. Similar DNA geometries and high transcription efficiencies characterize these TBP·TATA complexes. Here we show that, in contrast to the consensus sequences, TBP recognition of a variant sequence (C7: TATAAACG) is described by a three-step model with two branching pathways. One pathway proceeds through an intermediate having severely bent DNA, reminiscent of the consensus interactions, with the other branch yielding a unique conformer with shallowly bent DNA. The resulting TBP·C7 complex has a dramatically different solution conformation than for TBP·DNACONSENSUS and is correlated with diminished relative transcription activity. The temperature dependence of the TBP·C7 helical bend is postulated to derive from population shifts between the conformers with slightly and severely bent DNA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7776-7784
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number10
StatePublished - Mar 8 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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