Context dependent transactivation domains activate the immunoglobulin μ heavy chain gene enhancer

Batu Erman, Ranjan Sen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Enhancers and promoters nucleate the assembly of multiprotein complexes that are required for the transcriptional activation of eukaryotic genes. Although multimerized binding sites of individual transcription factors sometimes mimic the properties of an enhancer, the combinatorial use of factors is considered to be crucial for achieving biological specificity. The minimal B cell specific immunoglobulin μ heavy chain gene enhancer is activated by a combination of tissue-restricted ETS proteins and ubiquitously expressed basic helix-loop-helix transcription factors. Here we show that a domain of PU.1 that activates transcription from multimerized PU.1 binding sites is not required to activate the μ enhancer together with Ets-1. In contrast, a transactivation domain in Ets-1 is necessary to activate this enhancer synergistically with PU.1. Furthermore, the Ets-1 activation domain functions only when tethered to the CIA site of the enhancer. These observations illuminate two forms of context dependence: first, all possible transcription activation domains may not be required to achieve combinatorial specificity; second, functional transcription activation domains may require appropriate positioning on DNA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4665-4675
Number of pages11
JournalThe EMBO journal
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 2 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Context dependent transactivation
  • Enhancer
  • ETS domain
  • Immunoglobulin heavy chain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Genetics


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