Mechanism of subunit interaction and DNA binding of the heterotrimeric CCAAT binding factor CBF

Satrajit Sinha, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Many eukaryotic promoters contain a CCAAT element at a site close ($-$80 to $-$120) to the transcription initiation site. CBF (CCAAT Binding Factor), also called NF-Y and CP1, was initially identified as a transcription factor binding to such sites in the promoters of the Type I collagen, albumin and MHC class II genes. CBF is a heteromeric transcription factor and purification and cloning of two of the subunits, CBF-A and CBF-B revealed that it was evolutionarily conserved with striking sequence identities with the yeast polypeptides HAP3 and HAP2, which are components of a CCAAT binding factor in yeast. Recombinant CBF-A and CBF-B however failed to bind to DNA containing CCAAT sequences. Biochemical experiments led to the identification of a third subunit, CBF-C which co-purified with CBF-A and complemented the DNA binding of recombinant CBF-A and CBF-B. We have recently isolated CBF-C cDNAs and have shown that bacterially expressed purified CBF-C binds to CCAAT containing DNA in the presence of recombinant CBF-A and CBF-B. Our experiments also show that a single molecule each of all the three subunits are present in the protein-DNA complex. Interestingly, CBF-C is also evolutionarily conserved and the conserved domain between CBF-C and its yeast homolog HAP5 is sufficient for CBF-C activity. Using GST-pulldown experiments we have demonstrated the existence of protein-protein interaction between CBF-A and CBF-C in the absence of CBF-B and DNA. CBF-B on other hand, requires both CBF-A and CBF-C to form a ternary complex which then binds to DNA. Mutational studies of CBF-A have revealed different domains of the protein which are involved in CBF-C interaction and CBF-B interaction. In addition, CBF-A harbors a domain which is involved in DNA recognition along with CBF-B. Dominant negative analogs of CBF-A have also substantiated our initial observation of assembly of CBF subunits. Our studies define a novel DNA binding structure of heterotrimeric CBF, where the three subunits of CBF follow a particular pathway of assembly of subunits that leads to CBF binding to DNA and activating transcription.

Subject Area

Molecular biology

Recommended Citation

Sinha, Satrajit, "Mechanism of subunit interaction and DNA binding of the heterotrimeric CCAAT binding factor CBF" (1995). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9600562.