Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

ABSTRACT The activation of the PHO5 gene in Saccharomyces cerevisiae in response to phosphate starvation critically depends on two transcriptional activators, the basic helix-loop-helix protein Pho4 and the homeodomain protein Pho2. Pho4 acts through two essential binding sites corresponding to the regulatory elements UASp1 and UASp2. Mutation of either of them results in a 10-fold decrease in promoter activity, and mutation of both sites renders the promoter totally uninducible. The role of Pho4 appears relatively straightforward, but the mechanism of action of Pho2 had remained elusive. By in vitro footprinting, we have recently mapped multiple Pho2 binding sites adjacent to the Pho4 sites, and by mutating them individually or in combination, we now show that each of them contributes to PHO5 promoter activity. Their function is not only to recruit Pho2 to the promoter but to allow cooperative binding of Pho4 together with Pho2. Cooperativity requires DNA binding of Pho2 to its target sites and Pho2-Pho4 interactions. A Pho4 derivative lacking the Pho2 interaction domain is unable to activate the promoter, but testing of UASp1 and UASp2 individually in a minimal CYC1 promoter reveals a striking difference between the two UAS elements. UASp1 is fully inactive, presumably because the Pho4 derivative is not recruited to its binding site. In contrast, UASp2 activates strongly in a Pho2-independent manner. From in vivo footprinting experiments and activity measurements with a promoter variant containing two UASp2 elements, we conclude that at UASp2, Pho2 is mainly required for the ability of Pho4 to transactivate.

Original publication




Journal article


Molecular and Cellular Biology


American Society for Microbiology

Publication Date





2629 - 2639