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    nanoscience and nanotechnology: small is different

Eukaryotic transcription factors can track and control their target genes using DNA antennas

Dr. Milagros Castellanos
IMDEA Nanociencia
Martes, 20 Abril 2021 12:00


Link to the online meeting: https://nanoscience-imdea.zoom.us/j/94372315684


Eukaryotic transcription factors (TF) function by binding to short 6-10 bp DNA recognition sites located near their target genes, which are scattered through vast genomes. Such process surmounts enormous specificity, efficiency and celerity challenges using a molecular mechanism that remains poorly understood. Combining biophysical experiments, theory and bioinformatics, we dissect the interplay between the DNA-binding domain of Engrailed, a Drosophila TF, and the regulatory regions of its target genes. We find that Engrailed binding affinity is strongly amplified by the DNA regions flanking the recognition site, which contain long tracts of degenerate recognition-site repeats. Such DNA organization operates as an antenna that attracts TF molecules in a promiscuous exchange among myriads of intermediate affinity binding sites. The antenna ensures a local TF supply, enables gene tracking and fine control of the target site's basal occupancy. This mechanism illuminates puzzling gene expression data and suggests novel engineering strategies to control gene expression.