Common effects of acidic activators on large-scale chromatin structure and transcription

Anne E. Carpenter, Sevinci Memedula, Matthew J. Plutz, Andrew S. Belmont

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Large-scale chromatin decondensation has been observed after the targeting of certain acidic activators to heterochromatic chromatin domains. Acidic activators are often modular, with two or more separable transcriptional activation domains. Whether these smaller regions are sufficient for all functions of the activators has not been demonstrated. We adapted an inducible heterodimerization system to allow systematic dissection of the function of acidic activators, individual subdomains within these activators, and short acidic-hydrophobic peptide motifs within these subdomains. Here, we demonstrate that large-scale chromatin decondensation activity is a general property of acidic activators. Moreover, this activity maps to the same acidic activator subdomains and acidic-hydrophobic peptide motifs that are responsible for transcriptional activation. Two copies of a mutant peptide motif of VP16 (viral protein 16) possess large-scale chromatin decondensation activity but minimal transcriptional activity, and a synthetic acidic-hydrophobic peptide motif had large-scale chromatin decondensation activity comparable to the strongest full-length acidic activator but no transcriptional activity. Therefore, the general property of large-scale chromatin decondensation shared by most acidic activators is not simply a direct result of transcription per se but is most likely the result of the concerted action of coactivator proteins recruited by the activators' short acidic-hydrophobic peptide motifs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)958-968
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular and cellular biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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