Activation of transcription is the ultimate endpoint for many signal transaction and developmental pathways, and understanding the mechanism of activation is a key to understanding the action of these pathways. From previous studies, it is clear that disruption of normal gene regulation by mutations in gene-specific transcription activators can lead to cancer and other diseases. The broad long-term objectives of this proposal are to determine the mechanisms used by gene-specific transcription factors to activate transcription by RNA Polymerase II (Pol II). The proposed work will provide a basis for understanding gene regulation in normal and diseased states at the molecular level.
The specific aims of this work will utilize biochemical, structural, and molecular genetic methods to examine the direct targets of several transcription activators and the mechanism whereby contact with these targets stimulates transcription. Using a newly developed method for mapping protein-protein contacts within large complexes, we will identify direct targets of activation domains in several model activators in the presence or absence of chromatin. Biochemical and molecular genetic studies will be conducted to test the relevance of these interactions in transcription. We will extend these studies to examine the targets of a different activator class acting at TATA-less promoters. After mapping these activator-target interactions by hydroxyl radical cleavage and direct protein-protein interaction assays, we will determine the structure of the activation domains in combination with their relevant targets. Finally, by blocking assembly of the Preinitiation Complex at intermediate stages, we will examine the mechanism by which activator contact with 1 of these targets, the SAGA coactivator complex, stimulates transcription. Our proposed work will illuminate important mechanisms and principles of transcriptional regulation.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Research Project (R01)
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Molecular Genetics A Study Section (MGA)
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Tompkins, Laurie
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Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
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Baptista, Tiago; Grünberg, Sebastian; Minoungou, Nadège et al. (2017) SAGA Is a General Cofactor for RNA Polymerase II Transcription. Mol Cell 68:130-143.e5
Grünberg, Sebastian; Zentner, Gabriel E (2017) Genome-wide characterization of Mediator recruitment, function, and regulation. Transcription 8:169-174
Grünberg, Sebastian; Henikoff, Steven; Hahn, Steven et al. (2016) Mediator binding to UASs is broadly uncoupled from transcription and cooperative with TFIID recruitment to promoters. EMBO J 35:2435-2446
Warfield, Linda; Tuttle, Lisa M; Pacheco, Derek et al. (2014) A sequence-specific transcription activator motif and powerful synthetic variants that bind Mediator using a fuzzy protein interface. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 111:E3506-13
Han, Yan; Luo, Jie; Ranish, Jeffrey et al. (2014) Architecture of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae SAGA transcription coactivator complex. EMBO J 33:2534-46
Hahn, Steven (2014) Ellis Englesberg and the discovery of positive control in gene regulation. Genetics 198:455-60
Grünberg, Sebastian; Hahn, Steven (2013) Structural insights into transcription initiation by RNA polymerase II. Trends Biochem Sci 38:603-11
Knutson, Bruce A (2013) Emergence and expansion of TFIIB-like factors in the plant kingdom. Gene 526:30-8
Knutson, Bruce A; Hahn, Steven (2011) Domains of Tra1 important for activator recruitment and transcription coactivator functions of SAGA and NuA4 complexes. Mol Cell Biol 31:818-31
Brzovic, Peter S; Heikaus, Clemens C; Kisselev, Leonid et al. (2011) The acidic transcription activator Gcn4 binds the mediator subunit Gal11/Med15 using a simple protein interface forming a fuzzy complex. Mol Cell 44:942-53

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