Identification of adjacent binding sites for the YY1 and E4BP4 transcription factors in the ovine PrP (Prion) gene promoter

Stewart T G Burgess, Cuicui Shen, Laura A Ferguson, Gerard T O'Neill, Kevin Docherty, Nora Hunter, Wilfred Goldmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


The PrP gene encodes the cellular isoform of the prion protein (PrP(c)) which has been shown to be crucial to the development of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). PrP knock-out mice, which do not express endogenous PrP(c), exhibit resistance to TSE disease. The regulation of PrP gene expression represents, therefore, a crucial factor in the development of TSEs. Two sequence motifs in the PrP promoter (positions -287 to -263 from transcriptional start) were previously reported as being highly conserved, and it was suggested that they represent binding sites for as yet unidentified transcription factors. To test this hypothesis, binding of nuclear proteins was analyzed by electrophoretic mobility shift assays using ovine or murine cells and tissues with radiolabeled DNA probes containing the conserved motif sequences. Specific binding was observed to both motifs, and polymorphic variants of these motifs exhibited differential binding. Two proteins bound to these motifs were identified as the Yin Yang 1 (YY1) (motif 1) and E4BP4 (motif 2) transcription factors. Functional promoter analysis of four different promoter variants revealed that motif 1 (YY1) was associated with inhibitory activity in the context of the PrP promoter, whereas motif 2 (E4BP4) was linked to a slight enhancing activity. This represents the first demonstration of binding of nuclear factors to two highly conserved DNA sequence motifs within mammalian PrP promoters. The action of these factors on the PrP promoter is haplotype-specific, leading us to propose that the prion protein expression pattern and, with it, the distribution of TSE infectivity may be associated with PrP promoter genotype.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6716-6724
Number of pages9
JournalThe Journal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 13 Mar 2009


  • Animals
  • Basic-Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors
  • Hela Cells
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • PrPC Proteins
  • Prion Diseases
  • Response Elements
  • Sheep
  • YY1 Transcription Factor


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