Transcription factor SEF: Purification and functional characterization

Zhanyong Bing, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Cytokine-induced transcription of the serum amyloid A3 (SAA3) gene promoter requires a transcriptional enhancer that contains three functional elements: two C/EBP-binding sites and a third site that interacts with a constitutively expressed transcription factor, SAA3 enhancer factor (SEF). Deletion or site-specific mutations in the SEF-binding site drastically reduced SAA3 promoter activity, strongly suggesting that SEF is important in SAA3 promoter function. To further elucidate its role in the regulation of the SAA3 gene, we purified SEF from HeLa cell nuclear extracts to near homogeneity by using conventional liquid chromatography and DNA-affinity chromatography. Ultraviolet cross-linking and Southwestern experiments indicated that SEF consisted of a single polypeptide with an apparent molecular mass of 65 kDa. Protein sequencing, oligonucleotide competition and antibody supershift experiments identified SEF as transcription factor LBP-1c/CP2/LSF. Cotransfection of SEF expression plasmid with SAA3-luciferase reporter resulted in 3- to 5-fold activation of SAA3 promoter. Interestingly, when SEF-transfected cells were treated with either conditioned medium (CM) or interleukin (IL) 1, the SAA3 promoter was synergistically activated in a dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, when SEF-binding site was mutated, the response of SAA3 promoter to IL-1 or CM stimulation was abolished or drastically decreased, suggesting that SEF may functionally cooperate with an IL-1-inducible transcription factor. Indeed, our functional studies showed that NFκB is a key transcription factor that mediates the IL-1-induced expression of SAA3 gene, and that SEF can synergize with NFκBp65 to activate SAA3 promoter. By coimmunoprecipitation experiments, we found that SEF could specifically interact with NFκBp65, and that the association of these two factors was enhanced upon IL-1 and CM stimulation. This suggests that the molecular basis for the functional synergy between SEF and NFκB may be due to the ability of SEF to physically interact with NPκB. In addition to its interaction with SEF, NFκB-dependent activation also requires the weak κB site in the C element and its interaction with C/EBP. Besides its role in regulating SAA3 gene expression, we provide evidence that SEF could also bind in a sequence-specific manner to the promoters of α2-macroglobulin, Aα fibrinogen, and 6–16 genes and to an intronic enhancer of the human Wilm's tumor 1 gene, suggesting a functional role in the regulation of these genes. By coimmunoprecipitation experiments, we determined that SEF could specifically associate with both Stat3 and Stat2 upon cytokine stimulation. To examine the functional roles of such interactions, we evaluated the effects of SEF on the transcriptional regulation of two reporter genes: Aα fibrinogen and 6–16, which are IL-6- and interferon-α-responsive, respectively. Our results showed that cotransfection of SEF expression plasmid can activate the expression of Aα fibrinogen gene and 6–16 gene. Moreover, SEF can dramatically enhance the interferon-α-induced expression of 6–16 gene and IL-6-induced expression of Aα fibrinogen gene, suggesting that SEF may functionally cooperate with ISGF3 and Stat3 to mediate interferon-α and IL-6 signaling. Our findings that SEF can interact with multiple cytokine-inducible transcription factors to mediate the expression of target genes open a new avenue of investigation of cooperative transcriptional regulation of gene expression, and should further our understanding of differential gene expression in response to a specific stimulus. In summary, our data provide evidence that SEF can mediate the signaling of different cytokines by interacting with various cytokine-inducible transcription factors.

Subject Area

Molecular biology

Recommended Citation

Bing, Zhanyong, "Transcription factor SEF: Purification and functional characterization" (1999). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9942086.