Virology, Nebraska Center for


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Gene Expression (2005) 12(3): 193-212.


Copyright 2005, Cognizant Comm. Used by permission.


NF-Y is a bifunctional transcription factor capable of activating or repressing transcription. NF-Y specifically recognizes CCAAT box motifs present in many eukaryotic promoters. The mechanisms involved in regulating its activity are poorly understood. Previous studies have shown that the FGF-4 promoter is regulated positively by its CCAAT box and NF-Y in embryonal carcinoma (EC) cells where the distal enhancer of the FGF-4 gene is active. Here, we demonstrate that the CCAAT box functions as a negative cis-regulatory element when cis-regulatory elements of the FGF-4 enhancer are disrupted, or after EC cells differentiate and the FGF-4 enhancer is inactivated. We also demonstrate that NF-Y mediates the repression of the CCAAT box and that NF-Y associates with the endogenous FGF-4 gene in both EC cells and EC-differentiated cells. Importantly, we also determined that the orientation and the position of the CCAAT box are critical for its role in regulating the FGF-4 promoter. Together, these studies demonstrate that the distal enhancer of the FGF-4 gene determines whether the CCAAT box of the FGF-4 promoter functions as a positive or a negative cis-regulatory element. In addition, these studies are consistent with NF-Y playing an architectural role in its regulation of the FGF-4 promoter.