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Paper Chase

The JUN oncoprotein, a vertebrate transcription factor, activates transcription in yeast.

Nature. Apr 14, 1988;332(6165):649-50.
Struhl K.

Department of Biological Chemistry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115.


Transcriptional activation of RNA polymerase II in eukaryotic organisms ranging from yeasts to mammals has many common features such as enhancer elements, TATA elements, and activator proteins that bind specifically to promoter DNA. The JUN oncoprotein, which causes sarcomas in chickens, shows significant homology to the DNA-binding domain of GCN4, a yeast protein that stimulates transcription of the amino acid biosynthetic genes. The GCN4 and JUN proteins bind the same DNA sequences, consensus ATGA(C/G)TCAT, even though the DNA-binding domains are only 45% identical in amino acid sequence. The JUN protein almost certainly represents the oncogenic version of the normal AP-1 transcription factor, suggesting an evolutionary relationship between yeast and vertebrate activator proteins. Here, I demonstrate that JUN efficiently activates transcription in yeast either through its own or a heterologous DNA-binding domain. As is the case for yeast activator proteins, transcriptional stimulation by JUN requires an acidic activation region distinct from the DNA-binding domain. The functional interchangeability between yeast and vertebrate transcription factors strongly suggests a basic similarity in the molecular mechanism of eukaryotic transcriptional activation.