Synergism between steroid response and promoter elements during cell-free transcription.
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We have analyzed quantitatively the influence of distal promoter elements on steroid-responsive gene expression in vitro. Functional synergism between enhancer and distal promoter elements was examined using two model promoters, one containing a natural promoter (mouse mammary tumor virus long terminal repeat) and one constructed artificially. Human glucocorticoid receptor (GR) expressed in baculovirus induces transcription from a mouse mammary tumor virus long terminal repeat-containing DNA template. Transcription is diminished by oligonucleotides containing a nuclear factor 1 (NF-1)-binding site or a glucocorticoid/progesterone response element. Quantitative analysis indicates that NF-1 and GR act synergistically during transcriptional activation. In contrast, efficient activation by GR or purified chick progesterone receptor of a glucocorticoid/progesterone response element-linked ovalbumin promoter does not require interaction with the chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter (COUP) element in the distal promoter. Lack of synergism is not related to enhancer strength, since the glucocorticoid/progesterone response elements can be moved further from the promoter or reduced to a single copy response element without increasing the dependence upon COUP. Strong synergism is restored following substitution of an NF-1 distal promoter element for the COUP element in this construct. Our results suggest that synergism between steroid response and distal promoter elements is dependent upon the identity of the promoter element rather than upon the inherent strength of the enhancer element.