The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 54: 1301 - 1307 (2010)

Vol 54, Issue 8-9

Synergy between two transcription factors directs gene expression in Dictyostelium tip-organiser cells

Open Access | Short Communication | Published: 15 July 2010

Hong Yu Wang and Jeffrey G. Williams*

College of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, U.K.


cotC requires the transcription factor CudA for its expression in the posterior, prespore cells of the slug, while the expL7 gene requires CudA for its expression in the anterior, tip-organiser region. In order to identify additional transcription factors that might mediate tip-organiser specific expression, we performed affinity chromatography on slug nuclear extracts. The affinity matrix bore cap-site distal sequences from region A’ of the expL7 promoter; an essential region located upstream of the CudA binding domain. One of the proteins purified was G-box binding factor (GBF), a zinc finger transcription factor which binds to G-rich elements, known as G boxes, that are present in the promoters of many developmental genes, including cotC. Previous work identified an essential sequence motif within region A’ and we show that this element is a G box, that binds recombinant GBF. Moreover, a G box from within the cotC promoter can substitute for region A’ of expL7 in directing tip-organiser specific expression of expL7. Thus the same two transcription factors, CudA and GBF, seem to co-operate to direct both tip-organiser and prespore gene expression. How then is specificity achieved? Replacing a CudA binding region in the cotC promoter with the CudA binding domain from expL7 strongly represses cotC promoter activity. Hence we suggest that differences in the topology of the multiple CudA half- sites contained within the two different CudA binding regions, coupled with differences in the signalling environment between tip-organiser cells and prespore cells, ensure correct expL7 expression.


Dictyostelium, cudA, GBF, tip-organiser, prespore, transcription factor

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